THE deadly ash dieback tree disease Chalara has been found in another native ash tree site hundreds of kilometres away from the first outbreak.
Confirming the latest outbreak, Junior Agriculture Minister Tom Hayes said his department was facing a major challenge to eradicate the disease and would review its policies.
The latest confirmation was in a native ash hedgerow in Co Tipperary within 50m of a planting of imported ash trees that were also infected.
So far, there have been 101 confirmed cases of the disease around the country, 40 of which were in forest plantations, with others in nurseries, garden centres, private gardens and landscape planting
This latest case – and a previous one discovered earlier this month in Co Leitrim – are very serious as they show it has spread beyond imported ash trees to infect native Irish ones.
The department said it had been carrying out a systematic survey of Ireland's hedgerows to check for signs of the disease, as well as targeted checks in hedgrows close to infected ash plantations.
"Given this finding of a second outbreak in native ash trees within a hedgerow, it is obvious that there is a major challenge in eradicating this disease," said Mr Hayes.
"We will continue with the policy of eradication and review this policy as further results come in from the ongoing surveys."
Mr Hayes said that he had visited the site of the first native hedgerow infection in Co Leitrim, as the felling of trees there was now complete.
The department is now carrying out a survey of the woodland around the Tipperary site before deciding how much hedgerow needs to be removed to eradicate the disease there.
Ireland's Woodland Trust has warned that Chalara could be disastrous for Ireland's native forests as an outbreak in Denmark had wiped out 90pc of their ash trees.
The disease has spread at an alarming rate in other European countries.