MR. O'KEEFFE (Limerick)
I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland if his attention has been directed to a letter of the principal bacon merchants in Ireland, read at a meeting of the Limerick Board of Guardians on Wednesday last, in which it was stated that the recent order prohibiting the sale of pigs was unnecessary; that swine fever did not exist to any appreciable extent in the county; and that if the Order in Council is continued it will render the feeding and selling of pigs almost impossible; and whether this most important representation on behalf of the great bacon trade of Ireland will be considered by the Government, with a view to the removal of any unnecessary restriction now imposed on this industry?
*MR. G. RUSSELL
The attention of the Veterinary Department has been 1478 drawn to the communication referred to in the question. The Order in Council complained of does not absolutely prohibit the sales of swine; it empowers local authorities, if they see fit to do so, to grant licences for the holding of sales, subject to certain conditions as to the marking and movement of the swine exposed for sale. The reasons for passing the Order were stated in reply to my hon. Friend's previous question of the 18th inst. I may observe that the statement in the letter from the bacon merchants, that disease amongst swine does not exist to any appreciable extent in county, is not borne out by statistics in the Veterinary Department. In the 14 months ended December 31st last, since the Swine Fever Act came into operation, 7,959 outbreaks of the disease occurred in Ireland, and 690 of these were in the county of Limerick. The Order applies, as I have stated, to 32 out of the 160 unions in Ireland. It came into force on the 11th inst., and between that date and the 18th inst. over 1,600 pigs were moved from licensed fairs in seven counties to Limerick bacon merchants for slaughter. If it should be found by experience that unnecessary restrictions are imposed on the bacon industry, the question of their modification will be considered; but the fact that about one-half the swine in Ireland are annually shipped to Great Britain, and that in the year 1894 over 580,000 live pigs were so shipped, affords a very strong reason in favour of the efforts which are being made to eradicate the disease from Ireland.