‘TB eradication must be the goal’

European badger (Meles meles), young cub foraging in daylight, England, UK
European badger (Meles meles), young cub foraging in daylight, England, UK

Newry & Armagh DUP Assemblyman William Irwin MLA has stated that increasing on farm controls in respect of TB, whilst ignoring the impact of wildlife carriers, will not impact on TB incidence rates.

Mr Irwin was referring to recent remarks by Chief Veterinary Officer Robert Huey who restated a commitment to drive forward an eradication programme through a range of additional measures.

The MLA stated: “Of course it must be welcomed that DAERA through the TB Eradication Programme have restated their commitment to eradication, however on the ground it doesn’t look like the Department has eradication in their sights, rather containment seems to be the focus.

“I say that because the Department continues with a softly, softly approach to the very obvious risk posed by wildlife carriers of TB.”

Mr Irwin added: “I have stated before that other regions of the UK and indeed Ireland have seen incidence rates drop significantly, whilst in Northern Ireland we have seen a rise in rates. That is a concerning situation and as we know TB is a costly disease to our industry and has many knock-on effects for the farmer.

“I remain of the view that wildlife poses a significant threat in terms of spreading the disease and where effective and focused intervention has taken place in other regions, the results have been largely positive in regards to reducing incidence rates.”

He concluded: “I would continue to urge the Department to pursue eradication in a much more meaningful manner and look at other regions where success has been evident and employ similar intervention measures. I believe farmers are taking every reasonable step to protect their farms but this must be matched by focused and direct action by the Department.”