NI Agriculture Minister: “It is unfortunate that the EU decided to take a hard line…”

In a statement yesterday the Northern Ireland Agriculture Minister, Sinn Féin’s Michelle Gildernew said

Announcing the LPIS Improvement project, the Minister said: “It is unfortunate that the EU decided to take a hard line and impose a £31m disallowance for the 2004-6 scheme years at such a difficult economic time both for the Executive and the wider economy as a whole.  That said, the EU decision has been made and we have to move to mitigate future disallowance.”

The Minister neglected to mention that the current level of the EU ‘disallowance’ being imposed is £60 million, due to the NI Agriculture Department’s mal-administration of EU farming subsidies.

Nor did the Minister mention that at the recent NI Assembly Agriculture Committee meeting about the DARD budget, her department’s assistant secretary told the committee that “DARD now believed it was prudent to make further provisions which could push the final bill up to £100m.”

As today’s Irish News reported

The cash-strapped Stormont Executive has been asked to put aside £40 million to cover further fines for the farm subsidy claims fiasco.

The money is in addition to more than £60 million already demanded by the European Commission for Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (Dard) failings in the administration of payments to farmers.

…………

A spokesperson for Dard confirmed that its recent spending proposals included a request for a £40 million contingency sum to be set aside to cover disallowance by the European Commission.