The decision to retain a veterinary diagnostic unit earmarked for closure has been welcomed by the British Veterinary Association (BVA) and the BVA Northern Ireland branch.

Saved from the axe: Omagh will stay in operation.

Key role

Playing a key role in animal disease prevention, detection and monitoring in and around Omagh, County Tyrone, the laboratory had been considered for closure as a result of the financial pressures facing the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD) and the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI), in line with a scale back of surveillance facilities across the UK.

Simon Doherty, president of BVA Northern Ireland branch, said: “The Omagh facility is of paramount importance. Without it, vast areas to the west of the province would be left without effective surveillance.

“BVA Northern Ireland and North of Ireland Veterinary Association recognise the budgetary pressures across DARD and AFBI.

High level concerns

“However, as veterinary associations, our high level concerns are in maintaining adequate levels of disease surveillance and investigation, diagnostic services to support a local industry with a huge export market, food safety, and the ability to protect the interests of that industry in an emergency response situation, should an epizootic disease outbreak occur.”

BVA president John Blackwell added: “We welcome the decision to retain this vital laboratory. Maintaining adequate levels of disease surveillance and investigation is the only way to ensure vets are able to carry out their critical work in animal disease prevention.

“The whole industry and wider society benefits by being in a state of readiness and preparedness for an epizootic outbreak underpinning both animal and public health.”

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