17 April 2001
Province’s disease-free hopes dashed

By Philip Clarke

“FORTRESS farming” has returned to Northern Ireland after two further cases of foot-and-mouth were confirmated over the Easter weekend.

The new outbreaks, at Ardboe, County Tyrone, and some 60 miles away at Cushendall, County Antrim – have left the province reeling.

Results from a fourth “hot suspect” near Ardboe, County Tyrone, are expected to be announced on Wednesday (18 April).

Most foot-and-mouth restrictions, with the exception of sales of unprocessed meat and milk products from Newry and Mourne, had been lifted on 4 April.

These were due to be removed on Thursday (19 April) when the province would have regained its foot-and-mouth-free status.

But all livestock movements, including movements direct to slaughterhouses, have been banned after the latest outbreaks.

“The situation is now extremely serious,” said Northern Ireland agriculture minister Brid Rodgers, who described the outbreaks as a serious setback.

“Every single farmer must seal off their farms. The future of the industry in Northern Ireland is in the hands of each individual farmer.”

That view was endorsed by the Ulster Farmers Union.

“Farmers must `Fortress Farm and members of the public must play their part by staying away from farms and animals,” said UFU president Douglas Rowe.

Slaughterers have killed all livestock on the affected farms. All pigs within 3km and all sheep and cattle within 1km are also being taken out and rendered.

About 14,000 animals will be killed as a direct result of these two cases, said a spokesman for the Northern Ireland Department of Agriculture.

Foot-and-mouth – confirmed outbreaks
Foot-and-mouth – FWi coverage