Ireland has been declared free of a cattle disease, which cost the country millions of euro to eradicate.

The EU this afternoon approved Ireland's application for official brucellosis-free status.

A controlled reduction in the brucellosis eradication programme will now begin.

Many farmers contracted the bacterium from their animals. It can cause flu and fevers in humans and sometimes life-long ailments to the heart and nervous system.

Minister for Agriculture Brendan Smith described the Brussels announcement as landmark for Ireland.

He said the development will have a very beneficial impact on the farming community in the years to come particularly in relation to trade and the cost of testing.