08/02/24 Morecambe Bay cockle picking tragedy: changes to the industry 20 years on; new DAERA minister, working horses.
This week marks 20 years since the Morecambe Bay cockling disaster. 23 Chinese migrants lost their lives after getting cut off by the Bay’s notoriously fast flowing tide while gathering cockles. Those who drowned were found to have been illegally smuggled into the country and were working as forced labour for criminal gangmasters. The tragedy paved the way for the creation of the Gangmasters Licensing Authority in 2005 and to this day, anyone supplying workers into the shellfish sector, and into agriculture and horticulture, requires a licence with what is now the GLAA, the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority.The Northern Ireland Assembly has been meeting at Stormont this week for the first time in two years. There’s a whole new executive, finding their desks and their feet, including a new minister for the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs. It’s Andrew Muir, an Alliance party member, who's been visiting Lough Neagh.From sheepdogs to birds of prey, we’re hearing about working animals on the programme this week. The shire horse was the original workhorse, essential for heavy farm work like ploughing before the tractor took over. Today the breed is considered endangered but there are still a few working shires left, like the ones at Hook Norton Brewery in Oxfordshireshire, where they’re used for delivering beer.Presented by Caz Graham and produced by Beatrice Fenton.