I graduated with Distinction from the Veterinary College in Gent, Belgium in 1991, as a Doctor in Veterinary Medicine.
Initially, I worked as a Veterinary Surgeon in N.Ireland in Mixed Practice for 8 years.
Subsequently I moved to DAERA (Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs), then DANI (Department of Agriculture in N.Ireland). Here I worked as a trained enforcement and Poultry Welfare Officer in a field office. I led a project on the enforcement of the implementation of the Welfare of Laying Hens in Battery Cages with a view to introduce the EU ban of Battery Cages by 2010. This project resulted in N.Ireland being the European forerunner banning battery cages, before the 2010 deadline. I was also involved in the enforcement of Poultry Welfare in intensive broiler husbandry systems, where pododermatitis became a significant welfare issue.
I attended a 2 week poultry health course in Pirbright in 2007.
During my latter 12 years, I was the manager in charge of a field office, managing 20 animal health and welfare officers and 10 Veterinary Officers. During this time I was still heavily involved in the monitoring and the enforcement of animal welfare in cattle, sheep and broilers, on farm and in livestock markets. My professional assessments contributed to the successful prosecution of all of these investigations.
I have trained groups of animal health and welfare inspectors in the welfare of broilers kept in intensive husbandry systems.
During a short term in a DANI field office in 1993, I was involved in the BSE crisis i.e. the clinical assessment of BSE suspects and the destruction of these suspects followed by the submission of the carcasses for diagnostic examination.
As a fully trained Meat Hygiene Vet, I dealt with issues related to residues and animal byproducts in meat plants together with animal registration, movement and identification issues.
During the past 3 years, I have provided veterinary advice to my policy colleagues in relation to the new EU AHR (Animal Health Regulations), for which the EU are currently drafting the Tertiary Legislation, planned to be published by early 2019.
During the past 2 years, I have been involved in the HAIRS (Human Animal Infections and risk Surveillance Group) as the head of Zoonosis in DAERA.
I also developed a risk assessment for livestock markets, based on the assessment of biosecurity, welfare and IRM (identification, registration and movement) compliance inspections conducted in Livestock Markets (Cattle and Sheep) in N.Ireland. This risk assessment now informs the inspection interval of our market inspections.