14 September 2001

Irish Ploughing Match is off

THE Irish National Ploughing Match has been called off because organisers felt the influx of UK visitors carried too great a risk of spreading foot-and-mouth disease.

The event, scheduled this year for Oct 2-4 in County Laois, is the largest of its kind in the world.

It attracts 120,000 visitors a year and about 10% of the exhibitor stands would have been from the UK. The cancellation reversed a decision taken only last week by the organisers, the Irish National Ploughing Association which approved the event.

An NPA spokeswoman said: "Our heart goes out to the exhibitors who will be hit hard by this decision. But with thousands of visitors from Northern Ireland, Wales and the north west of England, we felt that the risk of foot-and-mouth outweighed any potential benefits." &#42