The government sets out a timetable to loosen restrictions imposed to combat the spread of foot and mouth disease.

Like many farmers across Ireland, Dermot Tobin was out today on his land near Carrick-on-Suir in County Tipperary. It is now 30 days since the Republic of Ireland's only confirmed case of foot and mouth disease in County Louth. For Dermot Tobin, the restrictions imposed to stop the spread of the disease means that he can not go to the mart to sell cattle. As a result, he has 40 or 50 cattle that he had not planned to keep. Dermot Tobin is looking forward to the marts reopening so he can carry on trading.

The Minister for Agriculture has announced that from next Monday the marts will reopen, but only as assembly points for animals on route to slaughter. As such, trading at marts will have to wait.

There's no date for the resumption of normal business at marts.

The government also announced that tourist accommodation in rural areas can open from Monday week. Sports events involving teams from Northern Ireland will also be allowed to recommence as long as certain conditions are met. One of the conditions is that there are no participants or supporters from 10 kilometre exclusion zones surrounding the confirmed outbreak. Restrictions on animal movements and on hill walking remain in place but will be reviewed again next week.

The Irish Farmers; Association (IFA), Irish Creamery and Milk Suppliers Association (ICMSA) and Irish Cattle and Sheep Association (ICSA) have all welcomed the easing of some of the restrictions.

In an effort to save the domestic tourism market, hoteliers have appealed with Irish people to take holidays at home. John Nallen of the Hotel Minella in Clonmel says that the domestic hotel industry has suffered immensely as a result of the restrictions.

Minister for State Noel Davern has harsh words for rogue farmers who are not abiding by the regulations, describing them as,

A treachery to the country, to their neighbours, to their community.

The government believes that the threat of foot and mouth will remain until 30 days after the last outbreak of the disease in Britain.

An RTÉ News report broadcast on 20 April 2001. The reporter is Damien Tiernan.