Written Answers. - Public Health Awareness.

Nora Owen

Ceist:

602 Mrs. Owen asked the Minister for Health and Children if he will carry out a public awareness campaign concerning the dangers associated with the giant hogweed plant, heracleum mantegazzianum, which is growing in areas of north Dublin, particularly in the Kinsealy/Portmarnock area; if such a public campaign would alert people to the dangers associated with touching this plant; if he will take the matter up with the Department of Agriculture, Food and Rural Developemt with a view to this plant being designated as a noxious weed under the Noxious Weeds Act, 1936; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20119/00]

Giant hogweed is a noxious invasive weed widely distributed in Ireland. The plant is most commonly found adjacent to rivers and streams. Contact with the sap from the giant hogweed plant can cause blistering to human skin and prolonged discolouration of the affected areas.

I will write to the chief executive officers of the health boards requesting them to alert the public to the danger involved in handling this plant.

As requested by Deputy Owen, I will ask my colleague, the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Rural Development, to consider designating the giant hogweed plant as a noxious weed under the Noxious Weeds Act, 1936.