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Minister Coughlan gives further update on Foot and Mouth Disease situation

The Minister for Agriculture and Food, Mary Coughlan TD, today further reviewed the foot and mouth situation in England, having been briefed by her officials on the most recent information available. In particular, the Minister noted the ongoing investigations at the Pirbright laboratories and said that she and her officials are closely monitoring developments.

Minister Coughlan confirmed that she had spoken to her UK counterpart, Hilary Benn MP, and had been assured that the UK authorities were doing all they can to confirm the source of the outbreak and to contain and eradicate it. The Minister said that she was also maintaining contact with the Northern Ireland Minister for Agriculture, Michelle Gildernew, MLA, and expressed her satisfaction about the manner in which the two Departments were operating an all-island approach to the current threat posed by the Surrey outbreak.

The Minister emphasised the absolute necessity for all those involved in the livestock industry to remain vigilant and to adopt appropriate biosecurity measures at their premises. However, the Minister said that, as things stand, there is no threat to the holding of agricultural shows around the country. Minister Coughlan said that she was acutely conscious of the number of shows taking place at this time, not least the Dublin Horse Show and the Tullamore Livestock Show, and said that there was no reason why, given the current state-of-play, any agricultural show could not proceed.

The Minister said that, as part of her Department's public awareness campaign, advice for the organisers of agricultural shows was being updated and published, along with advice to airline and ferry passengers travelling from Britain.

Minister Coughlan warned, however, that it was still very early in the outbreak and said that she and her officials were continuing to monitor developments on an ongoing basis. She said that the measures currently in place were a proportionate response to the current situation and would be modified in the light of any new information or further developments of which she and the Department became aware. In particular, the Minister said that the measures would be modified in the light of a forthcoming EU Commission Decision.

6 August 2007

Date Released: 06 August 2007