Press Release

Joint Communique – North/South Ministerial Council

Second Sectoral Meeting On Food Safety Promotion And Health

The second meeting of the North/South Ministerial Council in its Health and Food Safety Sectoral Format was held in Dublin on 4 July 2000. The meeting dealt with issues relating to the Food Safety Promotion Board (FSPB), which is one of the six North-South Implementation Bodies, and with Health, which is one of the six Areas for enhanced North/South Co-operation.

The Irish Government was represented by Mr. Mícheál Martin, TD, Minister for Health and Children and Dr Tom Moffatt, TD Minister of State at the Department of Health and Children with responsibility for Food Safety and Older People. The Northern Ireland Executive Committee Delegation comprised Ms Bairbre de Brún MLA, Minister of Health, Social Services and Public Safety and Mr Dermott Nesbitt, MLA, Junior Minister OFM/DFM.

Both sides acknowledged the importance of the role of Council, in respect both of its work in overseeing the FSPB and of taking forward co-operation in the Health Sector and looked forward to working closely together in the Council.

Food Safety Promotion Board

The NSMC received a progress report on the work of the FSPB which is an entirely new body being established under the management of an interim Chief Executive. The Council approved a management structure, outline staffing arrangements and the initiation of a recruitment process for the Board’s senior management. It was also agreed that the FSPB would be formally launched in September 2000.

The Council also discussed the possible role and composition of the FSPB’s Advisory Committee which will provide scientific and technical advice to the Body.

The NSMC also heard a report of progress in the work of expert groups set up to elaborate on the specific functions of the FSPB. The function of the expert groups is to advise the FSPB in relation to the implementation of a number of functions of the FSPB, including promotion of food safety, research into food safety, communication of food alerts, surveillance of food borne diseases; promotion of scientific co-operation and linkages between laboratories; and development of cost-effective facilities for specialised laboratory testing.

Areas for Co-operation – Health

The Council received reports on progress on implementing the programme of work it had approved at its first meeting on 4 February. The priorities identified in this regard were Cancer Research, Health Promotion, Emergency Planning, Major Emergencies and Co-operation on High Technology Equipment. The Council focused particularly on valuable progress being made in regard to Cancer Research and Health Promotion. It was agreed that formal proposals for decision in a number of these areas would be put to the Council at its next meeting.

Dr Jane Wilde from the Institute of Public Health joined the meeting and provided the Council with a presentation on her organisation’s activities. The Council paid tribute to the important contribution being made to the Public Health sector on the island by the Institute.

Next Meeting

The Council agreed that its next meeting in this sectoral format would take place in the North in October 2000.