DUP Assemblyman William Irwin MLA has again questioned the effectiveness of the current TB eradication strategy.
The Newry and Armagh representative said that what he described as a ‘softly - softly’ approach to wildlife was only resulting in TB getting a tighter grip in Northern Ireland, compared to progress made elsewhere.
Mr Irwin said: “It really isn’t good enough that the issue of wildlife carriers continues to be effectively ignored and with this practice of ignoring reality, the levels of TB continues to cause major concern amongst our farming community.
“I am aware in one instance of a farmer who had never had an incidence of TB in his herd in over 40 years of farming recently loosing over 60 animals as a result of a TB infection in his herd. Interestingly a dead badger was found close to the farm and was taken by DAERA for TB testing and the farmer was very concerned that it took a period of three months for him to be told the badger tested positive for TB.
“One can understand the frustration of the farmer who is doing all he can to quell the disease in his herd. This farmer also believes that given his herd has been TB free for such a long period of time, wildlife carriers have caused the loss of a significant number of animals in his herd. I share his view completely given the circumstances.
“The fact remains that officials within DAERA cannot continue to ignore this very real threat to our livestock and significant strain on our industry. The cost of this disease to the tax payer has been in the region of £40million in the year and this continues to cause great concern. We cannot continue with the current slow pace eradication strategy as it is simply failing to make any impact and this failure invariably leads to the threat from Bovine TB intensifying instead of reducing and costing the tax payer much more.”