Liam Aylward MEP has called on the Government to ensure that it enlists EU level assistance in relation to the ash dieback disease.

Mr Aylward, who is a Member of the European Parliament Committee on Agriculture and the Committee on Culture and Sport commented: “The spread of the ash dieback disease is a serious economic and environmental issue for Ireland and while I welcome the measures taken to date, it is essential that we utilise all supports and funding available from the EU level.

“The fungal ash-dieback disease has now been found in 22 locations in Ireland in 10 counties, including 15 in young plantations, 6 in horticultural nurseries and 1 planted ornamentally in a garden. According to reports the disease is present in forest plantations in Counties Leitrim, Meath, Tipperary, Kilkenny, Waterford, Carlow, Kildare, Laois, Longford and Galway.”

Given that ash is a key material in many indigenous furniture and woodwork industries, as well as being the principal material for hurleys, the MEP for Ireland East asked the European Commission to determine what assistance is available from the EU level to tackle this serious problem.

“I recently questioned the European Commission on what measures it has in place to stem the spread of this disease further and what assistance can be given to national and local authorities to control this disease and ensure that ash forests exist for future generations.”

Responding to the Ireland East MEP, the European Commissioner Dacian Ciolos, highlighted a number of funding options available to the Government to assist with both the campaign for eradication of the disease and assist those affected.

“While the government has a re-establishment grant in place, it is clear that the knock-on effect for those relying on ash as a raw material for their livelihoods must also be addressed. The sustainable supply of ash is essential for many indigenous businesses and it is essential that the authorities use all avenues open to them to halt the spread of the disease and also to work with those whose livelihoods will be affected.”