A ban has been placed on the participation of birds from Britain at bird shows and pigeon racing on the island of Ireland.

The Minister for Agriculture, Mary Coughlan, said the precautionary measure is being taken following confirmation of the H5N1 strain of bird flu in Norfolk in England.

Ms Coughlan said the measure was a further example of an all-island approach to the threat of bird flu.

She said her officials have also been in contact with agencies such as the National Parks and Wildlife Services who would assist if an outbreak happened in Ireland.

She urged flock owners to continue to take appropriate biosecurity measures.

The Irish Farmers Association has sought to reassure consumers that there is no risk when buying Irish poultry because it is fully traceable and quality assured.

Chairman of the IFA Poultry Committee Ned Morrissey said flock owners here are operating the highest levels of biosecurity measures to avoid any exposure to wild birds.

He said it is a testament to the high standard of production here that Ireland has never had an outbreak of this virus.