SDLP welcome for reported progress on all island Animal Health programme

April 13, 2010

SDLP Assembly Member P.J. Bradley has welcomed the Ministerial statement issued following the recent NSMC Sectoral meeting in Hillsborough.

Mr. Bradley, a member of the Assembly Agricultural and Rural Development Committee said: “I am really pleased to learn of the progress made on the issue of all island Animal Health. In the mid-nineties when I first embarked upon the promotion of an all island animal health initiative, it was difficult to gain full support from elected representatives as many thought it either impossible to attain or too political to become involved in.  But the fact that I never saw it as a political issue did encourage me to pursue the very important economic issue.

“A real opportunity did arise with the commencement of the new Northern Ireland Assembly and in fairness to my colleagues on the Agricultural Committee that came from all the political parties, there was never any real objections as to what I was suggesting.

“The first positive move on the issue came when my SDLP colleague, Mrs. Brid Rodgers, on being appointed Minister of Agriculture, wasted no time in getting an all island animal health programme included on the North South agenda and she immediately secured the full support of her ministerial counterpart in the Republic Minister Joe Walsh TD.  I was privileged at the time to be involved in a number of cross border meetings on the issue and to know that there were moves afoot to progress an all Ireland Animal Health programme.

“Regrettably everything came to a standstill when the Assembly collapsed all because the cross channel Ministers had no real interest in the matter and there was no real push from DARD during the period of direct rule.

“Since the restoration of the Assembly in my role as SDLP spokesman on Agriculture, I had a series of meetings with a succession of southern Agricultural Ministers and at all times the Animal Health issue was the number one item on the agenda.”

In conclusion, Mr. Bradley added: “I welcome the ministerial statement issued in the aftermath of the most recent North South Agricultural meeting in Hillsborough and that significant progress has been reported by our current Minister for Agriculture and Rural Development Michelle Gildernew MLA and the Agricultural Minister in the Republic Minister Brendan Smyth TD.”