Rare ash tree disease found in Co Leitrim
Hurley manufacturers and other forestry importers have been urged to stop all importation of ash timber and trees immediately, after a new disease affecting ash trees was confirmed in Co Leitrim.
Chalara fraxinea, more commonly known as ash dieback, is widespread in Europe but has never before been found in Ireland. It causes necrotic lesions on stems and branches leading to foliage wilt, dieback of branches and death of the top of the crown.
More than 70pc of the 350,000 hurleys used annually in Ireland are made from imported ashwood, while around 10pc of the ash planted under the Department's afforestation scheme is from imported sources.
Department of Agriculture officials are working with the owner of a Co Leitrim plantation to destroy the affected trees and prevent the disease spreading further.
The Department is introducing emergency measures under the Plant Health Directive, which will require any ash plants imported into Ireland to come from a region free of the disease.