[Sinn Fein]

2 March 2001

Big gaps in government strategy - Ó Caoláin

Cavan/Monaghan Sinn Fein TD Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin has said that big gaps in government strategy on the foot and mouth crisis must be addressed urgently. He said:

``Despite assurances in the Dáil this Border deputy can state without fear of contradiction that the so-called  ring of steel around the border is more illusion than reality. Many busy roads do not have the required disinfectant mat facilities.

``There is also evidence that people are experiencing difficulty in obtaining the necessary disinfectants. Steps should be taken to make this much more freely available at distribution centres throughout the country.

``In common with other organisations, Sinn Fein in Cavan and Monaghan has cancelled a series of events including the opening of our new office in Cavan town on the understanding that this is a sensible precaution. The Chairperson of Monaghan County Council,  Sinn Fein Councillor Brian McKenna, has postponed next Monday's meeting of the Council. All political parties and other organisations and groups at national, local and community level have also cancelled or postponed meetings and events. We need clarity therefore on whether these measures are indeed necessary of helpful or are just for public consumption purposes. If they are indeed necessary then church services, which bring much larger numbers together than many of the cancelled events, might also need address.

``Three main factors have led to this crisis - the importation of live animals from Britain, the activities of a small number of  irresponsible livestock dealers in Ireland and the ineffectiveness of the regulatory authorities on both sides of the Border. The elimination of these factors is now required to ensure the future of Irish agriculture.

``It is vital that all citizens, throughout the 32 Counties, ensure by their vigilance and co-operation that the measures to prevent the spread of foot and mouth are effective. Otherwise we face a national disaster.''ENDS

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