“A first come, first served basis is not an acceptable way of doing this”

The big story of the day on Stormont Live was the confusion over the distribution of EU funds for farm modernisation which emerged after comments on World at One today by Michael Mann the spokesman for the EU’s Agriculture Commissioner – “A first come, first served basis is not an acceptable way of doing this”. Northern Ireland Agriculture Minister, Sinn Féin’s Michelle Gildernew, turned up later in the programme ostentibly to clarify the situation. In the end, after telling everyone to “calm down”, she appeared to suggest that ‘first come, first served’ was not being used [Has anyone told the farmers who queued? – Ed] – that interview is below the fold along with the UUP and DUP calls for the Minister’s resignation if she has got it wrong. Update From the NI Agriculture Minister’s announcement of the Farm Modernisation Programme on 12 Jan 2009.

Applications will be received from 17 February 2009. Eligible applications for funding will be considered on a first come, first served basis. Applications received before this date will not be eligible for financial support. [added emphasis]

Firstly, here’s the opening discussion from Stormont Live with Mark Devenport.

The DUP’s William McCrea and the UUP’s Tom Elliot discuss the confusion and the NI Agriculture Minister’s apparent mishandling of the situation.

The NI Agriculture Minister eventually appeared to clarify the situation.

By the end of the programme, BBC NI political editor Mark Devenport didn’t appear to be convinced that everything was ‘calm’.