[Sinn Fein]

1 March 2001

Sinn Fein vice-president calls for top-level cross-Border task force to develop an all-island approach to foot and mouth

Sinn Fein Vice-President Pat Doherty MLA has called for a top-level cross-Border committee to be established to deal with the potential foot and mouth crisis on an all-island basis.  The Assembly member for West Tyrone said:

``Foot and mouth disease does not recognise borders.  The threat this disease poses to Irish agriculture and jobs and livelihoods in the the agri-food industry demands a cohesive and coherent approach by senior officials from the farm bodies and relevant departments throughout the island, north and south, if we are to stand any real chance of stemming its spread.

``With possible outbreaks of foot and mouth being investigated in Tyrone, Armagh, Roscommon, Wexford, Tipperary and Kerry, I am urging people to exercise all necesary precautions and to avoid unnecessary travel to farms and livestock outlets until this is dealt with.''  The Sinn Fein vice-president added:

``There have been worrying reports in the media of agricultural college students and business people returning to Ireland meeting almost non-existent safeguards or official indifference when they do the responsible thing by reporting their contacts in foot and mouth risk areas in England and Wales.  There must be a cohesive and co-ordinated approach if the public are to be expected to take government health warnings seriously.''

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