No new requirements have been introduced to the movement of sheep in intra-community trade, according to the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Simon Coveney.

Answering questions from Sinn Fein spokesperson on agriculture Martin Ferris, he said that no new restrictions were in place which would affect trade between Northern Ireland and the Republic.

Deputy Ferris had asked him recently in the Dail if his attention has been drawn to the new restrictions on the movement of breeding ewes and hoggets from here to Northern Ireland across the Border; and the effects of these restrictions on livestock marts and breeders here.

However, the Minister said Intra-Community trade in sheep is governed by the provisions of a Council Directive and that these controls apply to breeding sheep whether they are imported or exported and all sheep must be certified with regard to their health status.

“Breeding and fattening sheep must be certified as having been continuously resident on a holding of origin for at least 30 days prior to export including a standstill period of 21 days prior to export during which time no sheep have been introduced on to the holding. A derogation applies where sheep introduced during the standstill period are completely isolated from all other animals on the holding.

“Breeding sheep must have been obtained from a holding and must only have been in contact with animals from such a holding in which in the previous six months contagious agalactia of sheep , in the previous 12 months paratubercuosis or caseous lymphadenitis, and in the previous three years pulmonary adenomatosis or Maedi Visna, have not been clinically diagnosed.

“The rules in relation to Scrapie are that all breeding sheep must either be of the ARR/ARR prion protein genotype, or have been kept in a scrapie monitored flock for at least three years with no cases of scrapie being confirmed during this period.”