‘Minister must not shirk responsibilities’

Jo-Anne Dobson
Jo-Anne Dobson

Ulster Unionist MLA and party agriculture spokesperson Jo-Anne Dobson has said that the Agriculture Minister, Michelle O’Neill must not shirk off her responsibilities to eradicate TB.

Mrs Dobson’s made her comments following this week’s Stormont Agriculture Committee meeting.

The Upper Bann MLA said: “I very much welcome the work of the TB Strategic Partnership Group and do not underestimate the job of work they have ahead of them.

“We all want to see action on TB and while the group have been tasked with coming up with a ‘long-term’ eradication strategy, farmers will be rightly asking just how long it will be before we see significant reductions in TB in Northern Ireland.

“It would be in no one’s interests, least of all our farmers, if the minister were simply to hand over what is a hot potato within her department and expect the members of this group to solve the problem for her,” Mrs Dobson added.

“For years farmers have witnessed initiatives and plans come and go, leaving behind seemingly endless research and statistics, meanwhile the prevalence of TB remains unaddressed.

“The minister recently talked about how lessons need to be learnt from New Zealand and Australia, however many have long questioned why the minister fails to use the statistics which DARD have been compiling over decades.

“I welcome the Partnership Group’s ongoing work, but would urge the minister and her department not to simply pass the buck when it comes to looking to a serious and viable solution to eradicing bovine TB and ending the suffering of wildlife and our agri-food industry,” she added.