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McEntee announces further measures to stop ash disease spreading to Ireland

Minister of State with responsibility for forestry, at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Shane McEntee TD, has today announced the introduction of legal measures to prohibit the importation into Ireland of plant material from ash dieback infected areas.  These measures, introduced by Ministerial Order, take effect immediately.  They have been introduced in conjunction with similar measures taken by Northern Ireland authorities to keep Ireland free of Chalara fraxinea, ash dieback disease.   The measures will make it an offence to import ash plants and seed from areas within the EU that are known to have the disease.  Ash plants are believed to be the most important pathway for the long distance movement of the disease.

Speaking today Minister McEntee said "This is a very aggressive disease in ash trees and we must do everything possible to keep it out and it is for these reasons that new legal measures are now in place.  This follows on from a voluntary import ban from continental Europe by the forest nurseries"; he added "I would also like to take this opportunity to thank the contractors and owners of the ash plants from the infected batch and for all those who gave their time to co-operate on the task of ensuring a quick destruction of the disease on the infected site and on the other 10 sites where the same batch was planted out."

Commenting on the latest developments, Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney TD, said "these very clear import prevention measures represent a decisive legal step in addressing the disease.  Ireland's forestry sector is hugely important and it follows that any major threat to any aspect of it must be addressed decisively."

Notes for Editors

The young trees from the one site that tested positive for Chalara fraxinea in Co. Leitrim have been destroyed.  Plants from this consignment were planted on 11 sites and 33,000 plants from this batch have now all been destroyed by cutting and burning regardless of whether they showed symptoms or not.  Active surveillance, in place since 2008, is continuing by Department Forestry Inspectorate staff across ash plantations.

Earlier in the week Department officials notified the European Commission and the other Member States of the first finding of Chalara fraxinea, and the actions taken to destroy the material and its intention to take emergency measures under the EU Plant Health Directive to prevent the further introduction of Chalara fraxinea.

Developments in relation to the disease are being monitored closely by the Department and in the Northern Ireland Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD) in relation to any further measures that may be necessary to be introduced.

Date Released: 26 October 2012