Tuesday, 27 May 1986
Dáil Eireann Debate
Mr. E. O'Keeffe: asked the Minister for Agriculture if in view of the recent  serious outbreak of swine fever in the UK, the origin of which is a Dutch source, he will embargo all imports of meat produced in Holland and the UK.
Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture (Mr. Connaughton): The importation of live pigs, fresh pigmeat and uncooked pigmeat products from Britain has been suspended following the recent outbreaks there of classical swine fever. Only fully cooked meat products may be imported. As the origin of the disease has not yet been established, there is no question of applying similar measures to imports from Holland.
Mr. E. O'Keeffe: Will the Minister not agree that as we are an island with disease-free status it is not in our interest to continue to allow Dutch imports in this case? Our pigmeat industry is valued at £40 million in export terms.
Mr. Connaughton: I am fully aware of the potential damage that an outbreak of swine fever would have anywhere. As I pointed out, only fully cooked meat products may be imported and, as the Deputy is aware, the incidence of swine fever in fully cooked meat is almost nil.
Mr. E. O'Keeffe: This disease, known as classical swine fever, is endemic on the Continent. Recently there was in Holland an outbreak of another type of swine fever of African origin. Dutch bacon is imported here in processed form and it is a threat to our bacon and pig industry.
Mr. Connaughton: As I have said, we are keeping a close watch on this. It is very important for this country that we keep out this dreaded disease. I can guarantee to the House that everything possible will be done to monitor the situation in the next few days.
Mr. J. Leonard: Will the Minister not agree that we should be restricting the importation of bacon products? We have a disease-free status and we should be  developing the industry. A very serious situation has arisen in my constituency in the past week where closures took place and where pig prices have dropped by £3 as a result.
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