Dealer quizzed over foot and mouth outbreak

A livestock dealer at the centre of the foot-and-mouth emergency in Northern Ireland has been questioned by officials investigating the outbreak.

A livestock dealer at the centre of the foot-and-mouth emergency in Northern Ireland has been questioned by officials investigating the outbreak.

The man was detained by police in Banbridge, Co Down on the orders of Department of Agriculture officials.

His family insists he had gone voluntarily to the Department.

"Everything was done above board. He has done nothing wrong," said a family member.

Meanwhile the owner of the farm in Meigh, south Armagh where the outbreak was discovered, said he had fully co-operated with the Department of Agriculture.

In a statement issued through his solicitor, Maurice Collins said he had explained to the department the circumstances under which the affected sheep came to be on his farm.

Describing himself as a victim, he said he had neither "owned, hauled, bought or sold the sheep".

He added that he had provided the Department with "full details of the identities of the persons involved with the sheep".

Meanwhile the Stormont Executive will hold an emergency meeting following confirmation of the outbreak of foot-and-mouth in Northern Ireland.

The meeting will allow Agriculture Minister Brid Rodgers to brief her colleagues fully about the crisis.

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