Dáil Éireann - Volume 395 - 14 February, 1990

Ceisteanna — Questions. Oral Answers. - Bovine TB and Brucellosis.

7. Proinsias De Rossa asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food when this country is likely to be declared free of bovine TB and brucellosis; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

Mr. Walsh: The national cattle herd is already recognised as both officially tuberculosis-free and officially brucellosis-free.

The final elimination of both diseases is now being addressed in a coherent and systematic fashion by means of the eradication strategies which have been developed by ERAD.

Mr. Sherlock: Did the Minister say that the national cattle herd is recognised as being officially TB and brucellosis-free? If he did not, will he tell the House when he thinks it is likely that the national herd will be declared free of bovine TB and brucellosis? Will the Minister agree with the former Secretary of the Department of Finance, now Governor of the Central Bank, that the operation of the disease eradication schemes, particularly in [1789] relation to bovine TB, was the greatest scandal in the country? Will the Minister accept that £1.2 billion has been spent on those schemes? Will he state clearly if he is aware that all animals that are tested and declared as having the disease are slaughtered?

Mr. Walsh: The difficulties of eradicating TB in this country are well known. We have had far greater success with brucellosis. It has been well documented over the past 30 years that little progress has been made. To that end ERAD was established and resources provided to finally eliminate the problem of bovine tuberculosis. They have now drawn up a comprehensive programme with the help of their board, which is representative of the farming community, and they expect to make considerable progress over the next few years.

Mr. Sherlock: In view of the high administrative costs in 1989 of £14.5 million and veterinary fees of £12.7 million to farmers and to taxpayers, would the Minister agree that it is now time that technicians be employed to take blood samples, as is the case when a human being goes to seek medical advice?

An Ceann Comhairle: That appears to be a separate matter.

Mr. Sherlock: Would the Minister agree that the technicians should be employed?

An Ceann Comhairle: That is a separate question.

Mr. Walsh: I agree that is a separate question. I accept that the eradication of tuberculosis over a number of years has been most unsatisfactory. I fully support the ERAD proposal to make a fresh attempt to finally eliminate this problem.