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Taoiseach officially opens the Department of Agriculture and Food Labatory Complex at Backweston

An Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern T.D., performing the official opening of the Department of Agriculture and Food Laboratory Complex at Backweston today, said that the facility is proof of the very significant commitment by his Government to the future of the agri-food sector in Ireland.

"These state of the art facilities will play a vital role in supporting the agri-food industry, particularly in ensuring the safety of Irish food and maintaining the high animal health status of the country. Not alone does the Backweston Laboratory Complex represent a critical piece of infrastructure for the agri-food sector, but it will allow the Laboratory Service expand its operations to meet the demands of the new market-oriented environment in which the sector now operates", the Taoiseach said.

The Taoiseach added that his Government fully recognised that the Irish agri-food sector is one of the most important indigenous economic sectors in this country deserving of support, not alone because of its economic contribution of some ?12 billion annually but also because of its social and environmental role.

"The Government has demonstrated its commitment to the sector in the Partnership Agreement "Towards 2016", the National Development Plan and in the Rural Development Plan. The financial commitments in those plans are proof positive of the Government's willingness to drive forward the next stage in the development of the sector."

Minister Coughlan, in welcoming the Taoiseach to Backweston, said that a huge amount of planning has gone into ensuring that the transfer would occur smoothly and with minimum disruption. She thanked all of the staff involved for their dedication and sheer hard work during the transfer to the new complex, because not only did they succeed in meeting the on-going commitments of their respective laboratories during the preparations for the move and throughout the transition period following the transfer of the laboratories but they also made a huge contribution to the development and design of the purpose built laboratories.

20 April, 2007

Date Released: 20 April 2007