Irwin welcomes clarity on animal health

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Newry and Armagh DUP assemblyman and DAERA committee member, William Irwin MLA, has welcomed the “realisation” by DAERA Minister Andrew Muir that he retains control of animal health in Northern Ireland.

Mr Irwin said this realisation was “something that should have been known to the Minister” from, what he termed, “a common sense position”.

Mr Irwin was commenting after a letter was sent by Minister Muir to the Speaker of the House, Edwin Poots MLA, that illustrated the DAERA Minister had responsibility for plant and animal health in Northern Ireland.

Mr Irwin said: “When I heard the comments from the minister in the assembly that he no longer had control on animal disease I immediately felt that he was playing fast and loose with this most serious of issues and I was shocked that he felt he could sow uncertainty on something so important for our industry.”

William Irwin MLA. (Pic: Freelance)William Irwin MLA. (Pic: Freelance)
William Irwin MLA. (Pic: Freelance)

He added: “This also immediately spiked the concern of farming representative bodies and I know they too could not understand why the minister was adopting this ‘hands off the wheel’ position.”

Mr Irwin continued: “At the next available opportunity in the DAERA committee I asked that the chairman seek a response on this issue as I felt that Minister Muir’s position on this matter was not remotely realistic. Here we see in the minister’s letter to the Speaker of the House, that he does indeed retain control of animal and plant health within his suite of responsibilities.”

Mr Irwin concluded: “Minister Muir should now refocus on the important issue of Bovine TB and seek effective methods to reduce prevalence, support farmers and see this dreadful and costly disease brought under control.”