Farm Ireland
Independent.ie

Monday 26 June 2017

Foot and Mouth risk raised in regional lab closures debate

Gardai at the entrance to Ballon Meats in Carlow during the last foot-and-mouth scare in 2005
Gardai at the entrance to Ballon Meats in Carlow during the last foot-and-mouth scare in 2005
Ciaran Moran

Ciaran Moran

Foot and Mouth has now entered the debate on the possible closure of Regional labs in a review by the Department of Agriculture.

Regional Veterinary labs in Kilkenny, Limerick and Sligo are believed to be in the firing line in a review by the Department of Agriculture of its laboratory services.

It recently emerged that the Department has tasked a working group, led by Prof. Alan Reilly, and comprising senior officials with undertaking a review of its laboratory services, including both its Central Laboratory complex in Backweston, Co. Kildare and its network of Regional Laboratories in Athlone, Cork, Kilkenny, Limerick and Sligo.

The Minister for Agriculture, Michael Creed has said that a cost-benefit analysis will inform future decisions by his Department into the future of its Regional Laboratories.

ICSA will meet with Department of Agriculture officials this afternoon following today’s protest in opposition to the possible closure of the Regional Veterinary Laboratory in Coosan, Athlone, Co. Westmeath.

Speaking ahead of the meeting ICSA Westmeath chairman Dan Lynam said “We have questions as to how this ludicrous proposal could ever work. For example, should these facilities be shut down, who will cover the cost of transporting dead animals to Dublin?

"We also need to know how many of the labs, including Backweston, can facilitate lorry loads of dead animals without investment?”

Foot and Mouth

Lynam also said he would be asking the review committee “In the event of an outbreak of Foot and Mouth disease or any other infectious disease, what will be the implications of transporting infectious carcasses across the country?

"This would surely be a bio security risk. The movement of dead animals should be kept to an absolute minimum.

"It facilitates the spread of disease more than anything else. One has to remember that the beef and sheep trade is worth several billion to the economy and we have to protect that.

"We need to be prepared for any future challenges in the sector. Shipping dead carcasses around the country just makes no sense on any level,” he said.

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