Response to Avian Influenza threat must be adequately resourced says Northern Ireland MP

A Northern Ireland MP has urged DEFRA to ensure “adequate labour and financial resources” are provided to address the threat of Avian Influenza across the UK.

Upper Bann DUP MP, Carla Lockhart, made the call during a Ministerial Statement by DEFRA Minister Mark Spencer in the House of Commons this week.

Speaking in Westminster, Ms Lockhart said: “The present threat of avian flu is a deeply worrying situation.

"If avian flu were to enter our commercial flock in Northern Ireland, it would have a devastating impact on our poultry industry, including many family farms, on international trade and on the wider economy.

MP Carla Lockhart.
MP Carla Lockhart.
MP Carla Lockhart.

“I pressed the minister in the House of Commons to confirm that all resources to address outbreaks and prevention—finance and compensation, labour and gas stocks—are being made available to tackle this threat.

"Specifically on compensation, it is vital that there is adequate finance to pay it and that it will be paid promptly to protect family farms for whom cashflow is vitally important.”

The Upper Bann representative continued: “Assurances were received from the minister in relation to labour and finance.

"Obviously the priority is to prevent outbreaks through the very best biosecurity practices being in place.

"It is also important that all those who keep flocks have them registered.

“This has the potential to be utterly devastating for the industry and it is imperative that all possible resources are directed towards combatting that threat,” she concluded.

In October, DAERA introduced further disease control measures at Castle Espie, Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust at Strangford Lough in County Down. The measure were put in place after confirmation that Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) H5N1 had been found in captive birds at the site.