David Ford, Alliance spokesperson on Agriculture and Rural Development, has welcomed the statement by the Minister, Mrs Brid Rodgers, that she hopes shortly to start an enquiry into how Foot and Mouth Disease reached Northern Ireland.
At the Assembly Agriculture Committee on Friday, David Ford asked the Minister if she intended to hold an investigation into the spread of the disease from Great Britain to Northern Ireland. He also asked about the work of the Vision Group sub-committee, which is due to make recommendations for the future.
David Ford said:
“There have been a number of suggestions made for new regulations to improve the animal health status of Northern Ireland and prevent the spread of disease. These include the proposed standstill on animal movements and individual tagging of sheep and pigs.”
“I told the Minister that she should ensure that whatever package DARD proposes should be subject to consultation as a package, rather than individual proposals emerging one by one. I welcome her agreement to this.”
“The Minister has also told me that she hopes shortly to initiate an enquiry into the origins of FMD in Northern Ireland. This is welcome, but may not be sufficient.”
“Concerns have been expressed to me about the operation of veterinary checks at the ports before the FMD outbreak in England. It may be necessary for the Agriculture Committee to examine actions of DARD to see if there are lessons to be learned.”