The reported statements in the Assembly today from the Northern Ireland Health Minister, the UUP’s Michael McGimpsey, and the Agriculture Minister, Sinn Féin’s Michelle Gildernew, on the Irish pork dioxins alert are not much more than holding statements and the advice from the UKs Food Standards Agency remains essentially the same. But given that the first official comment in Northern Ireland came yesterday, Sunday 7th Dec, 24 hours after the alert notice was issued by the Republic of Ireland’s Food Safety Authority, and given the Irish News report of a spokeswoman for the Northern Ireland FSA stating that, “We were aware of tests being undertaken as officials here were in contact with FSA Ireland but we were not expecting the results until Monday”, what does it say for the apparent breakdown in communications north, south, east and west that the BBC reported last night that
Ms Gildernew said restrictions were put in place on Friday night when the situation began to unfold. She said the nine Northern Ireland farms were identified on her department’s electronic monitoring system. “My officials have been in close contact with their counterparts in the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (DAFF) since this situation developed,” she said.
That statement appears to have been re-issued, dated today [see url], on the Executive website. The confusion was also noted in the report from BBC NI consumer correspondent Martin Cassidy on Stormont Live this afternoon.
Partial, for now [10pm Dec 8], Full record of those ministerial statements in the Assembly
The Minister of Health, Social Services and Public Safety: The Food Standards Agency in Northern Ireland has told me that its first indication of this matter was received at 10.30 pm on Saturday, when it was contacted by its counterpart in the Irish Republic. The FSA spent Sunday investigating, and I had conversations with them and others, including the Agriculture Minister.
Adds Meanwhile in the Republic of Ireland
Dermot Ryan from the Department of Agriculture said the oil used [in the Co Carlow company’s machinery] was inappropriate and that the operator of the plant didn’t have the appropriate licence.
“We have established that the oil being used was not appropriate for this type of operation,” Mr Ryan said.
“Furthermore the type of oil that was being used in this drying operation – the operator would be required to have a licence from the EPA (Environment Protection Agency), and we have confirmed that the operator concerned did not have a licence.”