Call to name and shame foot-and-mouth culprits

Thursday, March 01, 2001
Chairman of the Stormont Agriculture Committee Ian Paisley today called for those responsible for bringing diseased sheep into the province to be ‘‘named and shamed’’.

The DUP leader, who has just returned from Brussels where he was pleading for special status for Northern Ireland, said the foot-and-mouth outbreak could mean the death of the farming industry.

Mr Paisley called for a full examination of how the disease was allowed to take hold in the province.

‘‘The circumstances surrounding the case raise a number of important questions about the flouting of regulations, which must be subject to an inquiry,’’ he said.

‘‘Such an inquiry must be immediately put in place by the Department of Agriculture and must involve the RUC if there is a suspicion that the regulations and the laws were flouted.’’

He said Northern Ireland could have been saved from this disease if the regulations had not been broken.

‘‘If that is so then I think the people responsible will have to be dealt with and they will have to be named and shamed,’’ he told BBC Radio Ulster.

Farmers on both sides of the border are preparing for the worst after 21 sheep were discovered with symptoms of the disease at a farm in Meigh in South Armagh.

Agriculture Minister Brid Rodgers confirmed the worst fears of the industry when she said: ‘‘I have to tell you that it is now my belief that we are looking at an outbreak of this disease in Northern Ireland.’’

The sheep, certified for slaughter, were transported from a market in Carlisle days before an import ban on livestock from Great Britain was established.

But instead of being sent to a Co Down abattoir, the consignment was sold live to a dealer.

A Co Down importer and a South Armagh farmer have been interviewed by Department of Agriculture officials.

The sheep on the border farm have been incinerated but it is feared that more than 200 have been moved over the border. Officials from both sides of the border are trying to find the rest of the flock.

Meanwhile, Government officials in the Irish Republic are examining a lorry load of lambs in Co Roscommon which are believed to have come from Northern Ireland last Tuesday.

The Department of Agriculture in Northern Ireland has imposed a number of restrictions which will be subject to daily review.

These include bans on the movement of farm animals other than for slaughter, on livestock auctions, on the movement of horses and the closure of agricultural colleges.