Irwin says TB control efforts must gather pace

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Friday, May 11th, 2012
Newry & Armagh DUP MLA William Irwin has reiterated his call for DARD Minister Michelle O’Neill to improve her department’s response to Bovine TB. Mr Irwin said that whilst farmers are clearly very committed to eradicating the disease, the department needed to improve its approach and speed up its response. He said that compensation costs have a direct impact on the tax payer and the onus was on the department to focus their efforts on a number of solutions. He stated: “I feel very strongly that the minister is dodging the important issue of wildlife carriers and in particular badgers and I know that the department is still studying the pros and cons of a cull. However, the time for consideration is long past and with farmers committed to tackling this disease it is beginning to appear like the department is the stumbling block to eradication or at least a notable reduction in TB incidences. There is sufficient evidence in my opinion from sources here in the UK and in the Republic of Ireland that backs up the importance of tackling the wildlife carrier issue and it really is up to the DARD minister to take the necessary leap on this issue.” “There is no doubt TB is a complex disease,” he continued, “With different strains which can be rapidly spreading infecting other animals quickly, or some strains can take longer to develop and all these issues make testing and preventing the spread of TB challenging. Farmers fear this disease amongst their animals as it can quickly devastate the herd and I know there is a strong desire in the industry to see this disease notably reduced in the shorter term and ultimately eradicated.” “However the lead from the minister and her department must be stronger. The minister must think outside the box and place a much bigger emphasis on the control of this disease by rolling out effective prevention measures and in particular finish her deliberations on a controlled badger cull and put the plan in action,” Irwin added.
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