New TB partnership members named

Northern Ireland’s Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) has today announced the new chairman and first four members of its new TB Eradication Partnership (TBEP).

The launch of the body is the department’s next step in driving forward the fight against bovine tuberculosis.

During a wide-ranging speech at the DAERA breakfast event at the 150th Royal Ulster Agriculture Society Balmoral Show, permanent secretary Dr. Denis McMahon announced the new initiative and introduced the members of the new partnership.

‘Recognising the challenges of TB’

Industry stakeholders and veterinary representatives within the partnership will work with DAERA to provide independent advice, assist in policy development and in programme delivery.

Speaking to representatives from across the agri-food and environment sectors, Dr. McMahon said: “We recognise the challenge that faces all of us with the high rate of TB incidence.

It is the source of significant stress for our farming families and has the potential to inflict serious damage on the wider agri-food industry and its ability to trade on a global scale.

“While we have taken a number of measures to address the issue, we want to keep moving forward with our approach.

“A key TB Strategic Partnership Group recommendation was for the establishment of a new partnership structure to provide advice and fresh thinking.

“TBEP will bring together individuals with knowledge and practical experience who will for the first time have a major role in shaping the TB programme at both a policy and ground level.

“Farmers will be involved at every level having an input to how the TB programme operates and bringing their experience to the problem.”

Dr. McMahon announced that Sean Hogan has been appointed as chair of TBEP alongside Seamus O’Kane, from a veterinary background, Dr. Sam Strain, from a science background and Adrian Patterson and David Rea, both from a farming background.

The new TB Eradication Partnership is the primary tier of new governance arrangements being put in place to provide expert oversight of a new strategy to drive forward the eradication of TB in Northern Ireland.

In addition, three sub-regional boards are being proposed which will be involved in the operational planning of the TB programme and ad hoc local Disease Response Teams which will be set up in the event of severe bTB outbreaks.

The TB Eradication Partnership will include a chairman, and six members, appointed by the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs.

At present, the chairman and four members have been appointed.

The department was unable to appoint someone from an environmental or conservation and a food processing background. DAERA will discuss with TBEP how these two positions are filled.

The partnership members are:

Chairman Sean Hogan

Chairman Sean Hogan is from Co. Down. He was previously chair of Northern Ireland Water and he was the first chairman of Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI).

He was the Chair of the TB Strategic Partnership Group and oversaw the publication of the TB Eradication Strategy.

He has been a chairman and member of audit committees in many fields including transport, health and social service, ports and utilities boards. Currently he is the chair of Newry Credit Union and a non-executive director of Ervia Group, Dublin.

Seamus O’Kane – veterinary sector

Originally from Co. Tyrone, Mr O’Kane graduated as a vet in 1972 in Dublin and has 46 years’ experience in a mixed veterinary practice.

He has been the president of the North of Ireland Veterinary Association and the Association of Veterinary Surgeons in Northern Ireland. He has also been the British Veterinary Association representative for Northern Ireland.

Dr. Sam Strain – science community

From Co. Armagh, Dr. Strain has been head of Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute TB Immunology Research Group and head of the bovine TB Culture Laboratory in Northern Ireland.

He is a member of Animal Health Ireland Johnes Disease Technical Working Group. Currently, he is chief executive of Animal Health and Welfare Northern Ireland (AHWNI).

David Rea – farming background

A dairy and beef farmer from Co. Down, Rea qualified as a vet in 1993 from Glasgow and practised for three years in Northern Ireland.

He is a member of the UFU and the Association of Veterinary Surgeons in Northern Ireland. He also has extensive experience at a senior level within a dairy co-operative.

Adrian Patterson – farming background

Patterson is a mixed livestock farmer from Co. Down with 16 years’ experience breeding pedigree stock.

He also has extensive experience in the private sector at a senior level dealing with major organisational change. He is also involved in charitable bodies at a committee level.

More to follow.