O’Neill confirms further extension for TB Strategic Partnership Group

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Agriculture Minister Michelle O’Neill has confirmed that the TB Strategic Partnership Group (TBSPG) has requested an additional extension on its deadline to submit its TB eradication strategy and implementation action plan.

Minister O’Neill said: “The TBSPG wish to secure input from external consultants, in particular to provide independent analysis of possible options and recommendations. The acquisition of the necessary consultancy advice requires advertisement at European level and the observation of specified time periods in the procurement process. This will mean that the consultants appointed will be unlikely to complete their work before late May 2016.

“Sean Hogan, Chair of the TBSPG, has written to advise me that he does not consider it possible for the TBSPG to finalise their TB Eradication Strategy and Implementation Action Plan before late June 2016.”

She went on to say: “I am fully aware of the complexity and the vital importance of the task the Group is undertaking. It is essential that the Group fully examines the key issues informing the Strategy and Implementation Plan to secure the best possible outcome.”

Minister O’Neill has requested Mr Hogan to write to her again by late April 2016 to provide a further update on progress together with a better indication of when the TBSPG expect their final report to be available.