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Lessons should be learnt from Report in emotional impact of Foot and Mouth Disease

7 October, 2005

Sinn Féin Agriculture Spokesperson, Fermanagh South Tyrone MP Michele Gildernew has said that the Lancaster University report into the impact of Foot and Mouth disease highlights the huge emotional and personal trauma of the outbreak.

Ms Gildernew said:

"I welcome this very wide ranging and in-depth report from Lancaster University. Particularly as it looks at the substantial human cost arising from the devastation of the outbreak of Foot and Mouth Disease.

"Whilst much has been written about the many measures required to reduce the risk of another outbreak, and how any future outbreak should be dealt with, very little has been done to identify the needs of those caught up in the wake of such an outbreak.

"The sense of isolation and the stigma associated with having Foot and Mouth disease on a farm, alongside the trauma of losing animals, and the burning of them on or close to your farm is very difficult to deal with. This is all compounded by the loss of control of the situation, and what was for many a bureaucratic nightmare.

"This nightmare lasted for months while one government department or agency shifted responsibility from one place to another, while in some cases promises that were made to farmers by government officials were broken.

"Lancaster University recommends that support and regeneration plans and assistance be put in place as part of a Foot and Mouth management plan.

"In the parts of the North that were affected by the Foot and Mouth outbreak, many different approaches were taken to deal with the aftermath. Some areas received assistance in the form of regeneration plans, while others had rural support officers appointed. This only happened because of pressure from the local community and community sector. The results from that assistance have shown that these measures should be separate from government and part of a long-term Foot and Mouth strategy." ENDS

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