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Dublin: 8 °C Tuesday 31 March, 2020

FF calls for strong enforcement of measures to prevent ash dieback spread

A survey on sites with imported ash plants over the last four years is expected in the coming weeks.

general view of a young Common Ash Tree which shows the symptoms of the deadly plant pathogen fungus.
general view of a young Common Ash Tree which shows the symptoms of the deadly plant pathogen fungus.
Image: Gareth Fuller/PA Wire

FIANNA FÁIL SPOKESPERSON on Agriculture, Éamon Ó Cuív TD, today called for rigorous implementation of government policy in relation to the ash dieback disease.

The disease, which is widespread across continental Europe and Britain spread to Ireland with the first finding confirmed last month in Leitrim.

In the Dáil last week, Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney said the consignment, made up of some 30,000 plants imported from continental Europe was planted over 11 sites.

The ash trees at each of these 11 sites were cut and destroyed by burning last month.

Protective measures

Measures have been put in place including making it an offence to import plants from areas known to have the disease.

Furthermore, the movement of plants within the country is now also subject to plant passport requirements and legislation was introduced which control ash wood movement into Ireland, including firewood and hurley ash.

Ó Cúiv said he welcomed the measures that have been introduced but said it is important that there is “rigorous implementation” of the measures to ensure the ash forests in Ireland are protected.

The Fianna Fáil TD also urged the government to engage with the main importers of ash trees in Ireland.

“Businesses that import or use ash need to be informed of the emergency measures the government has introduced, they need to be fully aware of what is required of them in order to limit the risk of the disease spreading further in Ireland,” he said.

Cross border cooperation

Last week the first outbreak of ash dieback was confirmed at five sites in Northern Ireland and a number of other sites are also being investigated.

A spokesperson for the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine told that the Minister has been in constant contact with Northern authorities on the matter.

“This is something we’re looking at as an all country issue and we’re working with the authorities in the North,” he said.

A survey by the department on imported ash plants around the country over the last four years is underway and the spokesperson said the department will appraise the findings when it is complete.

The results of the survey are expected in the next couple of weeks.

Related: Further restrictions on ash imports imposed as disease continues to spread>

More: Ban on ash tree imports as fungus hits Ireland>

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