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."

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.

Appointment of Independent Members of the TBSPG

DARD has also appointed 4 Independent Members for the TBSPG. They are: Dr George McIlroy, Dr Cecil McMurray C.B.E., Mr John Thompson and Mr Campbell Tweed O.B.E., and these appointments are for a term of three years with effect from 25 September 2014.

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
  • 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.

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
  • wildlife
  • vaccination
  • farm practice and biosecurity
  • research and policy development
  • 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 consultation on the Interim Report closes on 4 September 2015.

The TBSPG presented its Interim Report to Minister O’Neill and to the ARD Committee on 30 June 2015.

A copy of the Interim Report and further information about this consultation can be found at the link below: