The mass cull of thousands of animals on eight farms across England in a bid to stop the spread of foot-and-mouth disease is continuing tonight. Agriculture ministry workers built a giant funeral pyre for 800 slaughtered pigs in Heddon-on-the-Wall, Northumberland, where the outbreak is believed to have started. Fears of spreading the disease and the seven-day livestock movement ban have led scores of organisations to cancel meetings and sporting events throughout Britain. Agriculture Minister Nick Brown said that this weekend could be crucial in judging how far the disease has spread. No new cases have emerged in the past 24 hours, which Britain's chief veterinary officer Jim Scudamore said was a hopeful sign.
Here, the Department of Agriculture has placed notices in newspapers outlining the measures that are being taken to combat the disease. The Department has opened help lines to give information to the public about animal movement, travel to and from Britain, and the need to avoid unnecessary farm visits.
Gardaí and officials from the Department of Agriculture have turned away a number of vehicles attempting to cross the border from Northern Ireland as new restrictions on the importation of live animals and animal products came into force today.
Early this morning a woman Garda was hit by a car which failed to stop at a border checkpoint set up to prevent the disease from spreading to the Republic. The injured Garda was hit by a car heading southwards at 4.30am this morning as it crossed the border near Castleblayney, County Monaghan. The Garda, who is 25, suffered hip and leg injuries and is described as comfortable in Monaghan General Hospital.
Following, the outbreak of foot and mouth disease in Britain all vehicles attempting to import such products are being forced to enter the Republic via 30 supervised routes in the border counties. Imports of live animals and animal products from the North are being restricted from today as part of the effort to keep foot and mouth disease out of the Republic. The Minister for Agriculture, Joe Walsh, has placed an indefinite ban on all livestock marts in border areas and on hunting activities throughout the country.
The Department of Agriculture in the North has advised farmers to adopt a "fortress" attitude with regard to their farms allowing no visitors other than those who are essential to gain entry to premises, and to allow only one entrance and exit to be used where practical. All movement of cattle, sheep, goats and pigs cannot take place without departmental authorisation and this includes farm to farm and farm to slaughterhouse movements. Restrictions remain in place around a farm in mid-Ulster where a dead cow was found with symptoms similar to foot and mouth. However, the authorities hope that it is a case of malignant catarrh. Test results will not be known till Monday.
At Fairyhouse in County Meath, both humans and animals had to disinfect in exercises reminiscent of the last foot and mouth scare in the ‘60s. Cars and horse boxes were sprayed as they arrived. Punters had to put their footwear into small baths, while the thoroughbreds were walked through straw which had been doused with disinfectant. And even bicycles did not escape, they too had to be cleansed.