COUNCILLORS have agreed to press the new Minister for Agriculture, Andrew Muir, on his policy toward Bovine TB (bTB). 

At a recent meeting of Fermanagh and Omagh District Council, correspondence regarding bTB received from DAERA Permanent Secretary, Katrina Godfrey, was discussed by councillors. 

According to Mrs. Godfrey, bTB levels in the area covered by the Enniskillen DAERA Direct Office have been "rising steadily" over the past year. 

The herd incidence in the 12 months up to November, 2022, was 10.99 per cent.

In the 12 months up to November, 2023, the figure is 12.51 per cent.

The Permanent Secretary added that DAERA staff are "employing every affordable tool at their disposal to combat this disease".

However, Mrs. Godfrey added that due to the long interval between infection and an animal reacting positively to any test, there is "often a lag between the full implementation of disease control measures and a decrease in disease levels".

Erne North UUP Councillor Mark Ovens asked that the Council make the newly-appointed Minister for Agriculture, Andrew Muir, Alliance, aware of the local situation regarding bTB.

"I propose we write to Minister Muir, as I am conscious that he is just through the door and TB might not be a policy area he has a great deal of experience or focus on," said Councillor Ovens. 

"Things are so bad [with bTB] in both the county and the Enniskillen veterinary office area. It would be worthwhile to bring this to the attention of the Minister."

The proposal to write to Minister Muir was seconded by UUP Councillor John McClaughry.