West Tyrone Sinn Féin -- Building an Ireland of Equals

Omagh Council Agricultural committee convened

Published: 21 February, 2013

Omagh District Councils Agricultural committee has been reconvened in the aftermath of the horsemeat scandal. Chairman of the Agriculture committee, Sinn Féin Councillor Sean Donnelly said he called the meeting to allay the fears of local farmers and consumers after news broke that traces of horsemeat were found in some beef products.

The meeting took place on Tuesday evening. Speaking following the meeting the chairman of the committee, Councillor Donnelly said:

"There are very serious concerns over the horsemeat scandal which has come to light in the past number of weeks. With these concerns amongst local people, especially in the farming community I felt it was appropriate that we reconvened the agriculture committee on Omagh District Council to discuss this issue. There was a healthy discussion and Barney Heywood was in attendance in his capacity as Environmental Health officer for the council and he provided councillors with an up to date briefing on the issue.

"Whilst it was said that there wasn't a public health issue with the meat it did nonetheless constitute a major consumer confidence issue. Local consumers can rest assured that local produce isn't involved in this scandal and is 100% safe. Indeed it acts as a reminder that people should support and buy local produce as they know exactly what they are getting.

"As it currently stands the agriculture sector is one of the most scrutinised of all sectors and certainly this discovery will, we feel, have ramifications across the board. If the same amount of scrutiny applied to small farmers was applied to large multinationals things could well have been different

"Supermarkets and processers must step up to the mark and help build the public confidence amongst consumers that has been lost as a result of this scandal.

"The meeting also dealt with issues such as Single Farm Payments, the new LPIS mapping system being rolled out by DARD as well as other pressing agriculture issues. Certainly in my opinion there was a useful exchange of views and a degree of clarity provided at the meeting regarding the issues discussed, particularly the horsemeat issue which is ongoing presently.