Border sealed as foot and mouth campaign intensifies


A major security operation continues today along the border and at ports to prevent the spread of foot-and-mouth disease into Ireland.

In the North authorities have ruled out farms there as being the source of the outbreak in the Britain.

Garda checkpoint

The Department of Agriculture has also issued guidelines to shops and supermarkets about which food products from Britain are banned.

In England six cases of foot-and-mouth disease have been confirmed as fears grow about the extent of the outbreak an initially detected on Tuesday at an Essex abbatoir.

But Stormont agriculture minister Ms Brid Rodgers today announced tests have ruled out farms in North as being the source of the foot-and-mouth outbreak in the UK.

She said tests by her department on three farms which supplied pigs to the Essex abattoir had found no trace of foot-and-mouth.

Ms Rodgers told the Assembly's agriculture committee that laboratory tests were still being carried out and preliminary results should be available later today.

The lorry which transported the pigs to the Essex abattoir had been taken out of circulation, she said.

The EU ban on British animal and dairy produce would continue to apply to Northern Ireland until further notice, said Ms Rodgers.

The Irish Timesreported the focus of the investigation into the possible spread of the disease to Ireland switched last night from a farm in Co Cavan to a mart in Co Tyrone, where the lorry from Essex plant was cleaned before travelling into the Republic.

The Northern authorities were concerned that if the lorry was contaminated at the abattoir in Britain, contaminated bedding, manure or other material may have been left at the mart.

Garda detectives were last night questioning a man about the movement of the lorry as a Co Cavan farm remained sealed off.

The Food Safety Promotion Board has reassured consumers that they are not at risk from the current outbreak.