Secretary of State powerless to act on bTB

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Farmers For Action (FFA) representatives have been told that responsibility for bovine TB eradication in Northern Ireland cannot be given to direct rule ministers.

In June FFA wrote to Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Karen Bradley asking her to immediately put Minister for Agriculture George Eustice in charge of bovine TB eradication in Northern Ireland.

FFA say this was due to the progress he is making in England and Wales versus what they see as decades of inaction in Northern Ireland on this issue and many others in agriculture.

In her response, Mrs Bradley explained that BTB is a devolved matter and therefore not one on which she has the power to intervene.

She added: “This is one of a range of issues which highlight the importance of restoring devolved government in Northern Ireland so that decisions can be taken in the interests of the whole community.”

Commenting FFA’s William Taylor stated: “It would appear that the big ship NI is floating but the engine has stalled and the rudder is jammed full starboard.

“On August 28, Northern Ireland will be the longest running democracy without a Government. We are a matter of days away from Northern Ireland being 589 days powerless.

“If our politicians won’t take charge of their brief in Stormont and if the Secretary of State won’t or can’t for some reason take charge of Northern Ireland then the people of Northern Ireland, on August 28, should take a stand and make themselves heard.”