State free of foot-and-mouth disease, says Walsh

 

The Minister for Agriculture has said there is no foot-and-mouth disease in the State, and confirmed that all samples taken from animals had tested negative for the virus.

"I am happy to say that there is no cause for concern anywhere in the country," Mr Walsh told a news briefing.

He added that the ongoing cull in the Cooley Peninsula in Co Louth, where the sole case of foot-and-mouth disease in the State was confirmed five weeks ago, is expected to be completed today or early tomorrow.

Sheep
Louth cull expected to finish today

Mr Walsh said that his Department would send a helicopter to the Cooley Peninsula tomorrow for a "mopping-up operation" on the mountains.

He said the investigation into the original source of the case of the disease in Co Louth is ongoing.

A total of 529 herds of livestock have been restricted during the past five weeks, of which 417 now had all controls lifted.

A number of farming activities that have been restricted due to foot-and-mouth are to be allowed to resume, Mr Walsh confirmed.

He also said that a provisional timetable had been implemented for the resumption of a number of farming activities, including artificial insemination, the movement of livestock in non-restricted areas, the importing of horses from EU members states unaffected by the virus, the distribution of fodder for animals, the use of marts as assembly points for the movement of animals for slaughter and the re-population of herds depleted by brucellosis or BSE.

He said these would be permitted as long as the agreed Department protocols on safe practices were observed.

Mr Walsh also confirmed he would host a North-South Ministerial meeting in Dublin on Friday, where would be meeting his Northern Ireland counterpart, Ms Bríd Rodgers. The agenda would focus on the foot-and-mouth crisis, he said.

This morning, the Slaney Meat Plant in Bunclody, Co Wexford was given the all-clear to resume operations after the receipt of negative test results for foot-and-mouth disease on samples taken from the factory.

A spokesman for the Department of Agriculture told ireland.comthey had received negative preliminary and secondary results from the Pirbright laboratory in Britain in respect to the plant and the final results were proved negative this afternoon.

There remain just two outstanding final results on tests, he said. These are in respect to samples taken from sheep in Tipperary and from a pig in Wicklow.

"These case are not of great concern, and we are confident of the results," the spokesman said.

Last night the Department received a negative final result from a farm in Durrow, Co Laois.