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Joe Walsh - Agriculture Minister during the Foot & Mouth crisis - has died, aged 71

The Cork man won widespread praise for his handling of the 2001 crisis.

Joe Walsh visits a checkpoint in Dromad on the Louth-Armagh border which was set up to help prevent the spread of foot-and-mouth disease.
Joe Walsh visits a checkpoint in Dromad on the Louth-Armagh border which was set up to help prevent the spread of foot-and-mouth disease.
Image: Joe Dunne/Photocall Ireland!

TRIBUTES ARE BEING paid to former Fianna Fáil minister Joe Walsh, who has died at the age of 71.

Walsh, who ran a dairy company before becoming a politician, was first elected to the Dáil in 1977.

He served as Agriculture Minister in two Fianna Fáil-led governments, from 1994 to 94, and again between 1997 and 2004.

The Cork man won widespread praise for his handling of the Foot & Mouth crisis in 2001, when he oversaw a series of strict control measures to ensure Ireland’s exposure to the disease was limited.

“I would like to send my deepest sympathy to Joe’s wife, Marie, to his family and to the Fianna Fáil party,” Taoiseach Enda Kenny said in a statement.

“I knew Joe well throughout his career in the Oireachtas. He was a dedicated representative of the people of Cork South West and a hard-working and committed Minister.

He will be remembered in particular for his decisive and successful management of the foot and mouth crisis of 2001. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam.

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin said Walsh’s death came “as a shock to me and his many friends and admirers across the country”.

Joe was Ireland’s key negotiator during the 1992 and 2003 CAP reforms, he established Bord Bia and facilitated a transformation in the marketing and export strategy for Ireland’s food industry.

“Indeed, his brilliant leadership in responding the Foot and Mouth Disease crisis was instrumental in mitigating a disaster that had the potential to wipe out a way of life.

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“Joe’s leadership during the Foot and Mouth crisis was recognised internationally, with the French Government honouring him with the Legion d’Honneur and the King of Spain presenting him with the Grand Cross of the Agricultural Order of Merit for his service to agriculture.”

Funeral details are yet to be confirmed.

Read: In pictures: When Foot & Mouth had us all on edge … and those little blue tubs were EVERYWHERE

About the author:

Daragh Brophy

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