Dáil Éireann - Volume 444 - 23 June, 1994

Written Answers. - TB Eradication Scheme.

31. Ms McManus asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry his response to the special report of the Committee of Public Accounts on bovine tubercullosis eradication; if he intends to implement the recommendations made in the report; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry (Mr. J. Walsh): I have recently received the report of the Public Accounts Committee on bovine tuberculosis and I am having it examined. By way of initial comment I can say that a number of the recommendations has been implemented or are in the process of implementation. The other recommendations will be considered by my Department. It is important to point out that the level of this disease has been reduced to very low levels in Ireland — over 99 per cent of the national herd is clear of this disease. There are inherent difficulties in reducing the residual level of this, or indeed of any disease. It is also important to recognise that, as was recognised in an independent analysis, the bovine tuberculosis eradication scheme has been beneficial in protecting market access for our agricultural exports and that the costs involved in operating the scheme have been outweighed by the benefits. I have placed special emphasis on improving the efficiency of the scheme and on research designed to overcome the barriers to full eradication.