Officials in my Department are directly involved in ongoing and frequent North-South engagement on a range of issues. This involves having extensive contact between officials in my Department and the Northern Ireland Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs, and interested parties in the food, agriculture and fishing sectors in both jurisdictions. This work is undertaken in the context of advancing our priorities in relation to the agreed areas of co-operation under the North South Ministerial Council:
- the development of an All-Island Animal Health Strategy for control of animal movements and the prevention, containment and eradication of epizootic diseases in Ireland;
- the development of an All-Island Plant Health and Research Strategy including co-operation between both jurisdictions in relation to plant protection products; and
- liaison on a range of international issues including trade and the Common Agriculture Policy.
Officials also co-operate in other areas of common interest as specific matters arise, including Brexit, farm safety, EU funding and joint research projects, cross-border laboratory collaboration and the outbreak of the Chalara Fraxinea disease commonly known as ash dieback.
As engagement in North-South issues are managed as part of the general responsibilities of the many Divisions concerned, it is not possible to identify the specific share of staff time assigned solely or primarily to work on such issues.