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Sinn Féin call for 24 hour 'Bird Flu' Hotline

5 February, 2007

Sinn Féin Agriculture Spokesperson, Fermanagh South Tyrone MP Michelle Gildernew has called for a number of immediate steps to protect both the farming community and the populace at large from the threat of avian flu.

Ms Gildernew said:

"The first confirmed outbreak of the H5N1 virus in poultry in England requires urgent action. The Irish and British governments should immediately take steps to protect human health and to safeguard the poultry industry in Ireland. This virus has the potential to spread to human beings as well as devastating the important poultry sector of our agriculture industry.

"It is essential that farmers are kept fully up to date with all of the relevant information on what is a very fluid situation. They need to aware of what is happening in England and they need to understand fully the steps that are required to protect their flocks here.

"I believe that DARD need to move quickly to put in pace a 24 hour Hotline that is properly staffed with informed personnel.

"I also believe that the Irish and British governments need to move to adopt a Fortress Ireland approach. A first step must be the immediate banning of all imports into Ireland of poultry products from Britain and other areas
affected by the H5N1 strain.

"Now is the time to act before the virus spreads. All necessary precautions,
including a ban on all poultry imports into Ireland must now be taken." ENDS

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