TB Strategic Partnership Group
The TB Strategic Partnership Group (TBSPG) is an independent high level advisory group which has been tasked by the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development with developing a strategy and implementation action plan to effect a progressive and sustained reduction of TB in the cattle population here, with a view to eventual eradication.
Background to the establishment of the TBSPG
On 17 September 2013, Minister O’Neill announced to the NI Assembly Agriculture and Rural Development (ARD) Committee that she intended to establish a Government/industry strategic partnership to develop a long term strategy to eradicate TB from the cattle population in the north.
Minister O’Neill said: "Eradication of TB is a key priority for me. I want this strategy, which will be jointly owned by government and the industry, to be all embracing and address all the issues such as TB compensation; improving biosecurity; improving communications with farmers and vets; and developing our ability to address the wildlife factor. The strategy should also seek to re-energise relationships with all industry stakeholders; consider as appropriate the enhancement of primary and secondary legislation; and consider other means to tackle and eradicate the disease."
- Press Release 17 September 2013: New partnership to work to eradicate TB – O’Neill (NI Executive website)
- Official Report (Hansard) of Minister Michelle O’Neill’s appearance at the ARD Committee on 17 September 2013 (NI Assembly website)
Appointment of the Independent Chair and Members of the TBSPG
Mr Sean Hogan was appointed to the position of Chair of the TBSPG for an initial term of three years with effect from 10 July 2014.
DARD also appointed 4 Independent Members to the TBSPG for an initial term of three years. Mr Campbell Tweed O.B.E. was appointed with effect from 26 September 2014, Dr George McIlroy and Mr John Thompson from 29 September 2014, and Dr Cecil McMurray C.B.E. from 6 October 2014.
All appointments were made in accordance with the spirit of the CPANI Code of Practice.
- Press Release 9 October 2014: Appointment of members to the TB Strategic Partnership Group (NI Executive website)
- Press Release 7 August 2014: Recruitment of Members for the TB Strategic Partnership Group (NI Executive website)
- Press Release 22 July 2014: Appointment of Chair to the TB Strategic Partnership Group (NI Executive website)
- Press Release 7 May 2014: Recruitment for TB Strategic Partnership underway (NI Executive website)
Inaugural meeting of the TBSPG
The inaugural meeting of the TBSPG was held on 7 November 2014 at CAFRE's Greenmount Campus, Antrim. DARD's Permanent Secretary, Mr. Noel Lavery, was in attendance, as well as speakers from DARD and AFBI. Presentations were made giving the TBSPG an insight into current DARD TB policy, Veterinary Service TB programme, Epidemiology and Programme Implementation, and AFBI TB research.
Subsequently on 17 November 2014 the TBSPG met with the ARD Committee to brief them on their remit and objectives.
The objectives of the TBSPG
The TBSPG are tasked to:
- review the current TB eradication programme;
- develop a long-term strategy to eradicate bovine TB;
- develop an implementation action plan;
- consider the resources necessary to deliver recommendations and actions;
- regularly review and revise the action plan;
- provide strategic advice to the Minister taking account of the full range of industry and stakeholder interests;
- re-energise relationships with all industry stakeholders;
- consider the enhancement of primary and secondary legislation; and
- consider other means to tackle and eradicate this disease.
Initial public consultation and briefing sessions
A consultation ran between 8 December 2014 and 23 January 2015. The TBSPG sought views across a broad spectrum of issues, ranging from cattle management, programme management, compensation, and control of wildlife, diagnostics, and research requirements. A total of 28 responses were received from private individuals, industry representative bodies and non-government organisations (NGOs). Representatives from consultation respondents were invited to attend TBSPG meetings to expand upon their comments.
- Press Release 14 January 2015: Have your say on the battle to wipe out Bovine TB, says O’Neill (NI Executive website)
- Newspaper advertisement - TBSPG are seeking your views on Bovine TB Control in NI - December 2014 (Portable Document Format, 38 Kb)
Emerging approaches – development of thematic areas
The TBSPG have met with a broad range of UK and international TB experts and researchers. They have gathered extensive information and evidence and, having considered all information provided to date, have identified the key thematic areas for exploration. These thematic areas are:
- culture and communication;
- governance and delivery;
- existing tools and processes;
- farm practice and biosecurity;
- research and policy development; and
- funding TB eradication.
Interim Report and second public consultation
An Interim Report was issued for public consultation on 30 June 2015 presenting progress to date, the issues under consideration and a range of options as to how the issues may be addressed and in so doing work towards eradicating TB in Northern Ireland. The TBSPG presented its Interim Report to Minister O’Neill and to the ARD Committee on 30 June 2015.
Over the summer months, the TBSPG has sought views on its Interim Report as to the most efficient and pragmatic actions required to achieve the greatest reduction in the level and cost of bovine TB in the shortest possible time. The consultation ended on Friday 4 September 2015 and the TBSPG will now consider all the submissions as it works to finalise its considerations and produce its strategy.
A copy of the Interim Report and further information about this consultation can be found at the links below:
- Interim Report of the TB Strategic Partnership Group (Portable Document Format, 1422 Kb) [Consultation closed Friday 4 September 2015]
- Press Release 30 June 2015: O’Neill receives Interim Report on TB Eradication (NI Executive website)