NI Agriculture Minister: “I know that I am not alone in that concern among member states.”

The Northern Ireland Department of Agriculture may have sought £100 million to cover the eventual total disallowance by the EU Commission for the maladministration of EU funds but, as RTÉ reports, the Minister, Sinn Féin’s Michelle Gildernew, has told the Assembly that “the Department is taking the necessary steps today to take a case to the European Court of Justice” challenging that disallowance. 

From the Minister’s press release

The Minister delivered her statement to set out her Department’s position in regard to the EU Disallowance threat relating to its administration of European Agricultural Funds and to detail the actions being taken to counter it. She said: “I have significant concerns that the Commission is being heavy handed and is over-estimating the risk to public funds. I know that I am not alone in that concern among member states.”

Confirming the Department’s latest action in challenging the Commission’s decision to disallow, she continued: “I can confirm that the Department is taking the necessary steps today to take a case to the European Court of Justice and that it has the support of the Executive in this matter. The action will be taken by the Department, with appropriate legal advice from the member state and from the Attorney General’s office.”

But if, as the Minister implies, other member states support her position, where are their legal challenges?

And isn’t the “member state” here the UK?

Adds From the UTV report

A spokesman for the Directorate-General for Agriculture and Rural Development at the European Commission said: “Everyone has recourse to the court and the European Commission will defend its decision, which already went through an internal process of conciliation with the authorities in Northern Ireland.”

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  • I can just imagine the legal advice that Ms Gildernew is about to receive from the Attorney General’s office. Not stuff that would be appropriate before the watershed.

  • Pippakin

    I think the UK generally has an axe to grind. If I understand it correctly they are in trouble in more than one region.

    It seems to me that there is a case. If details were given, and accepted, both recently and historically it is a bit rich to start moving the goal posts, or in this case the farmers boundaries etc. now.

    I suspect this has more to do with the economic problems facing the EU than it has with any agricultural problems.

  • Pete Baker


    “If details were given, and accepted, both recently and historically…”

    Here’s what Mark Devenport said in June

    Seamus pointed out that some of the over payments are being blamed by the authorities on poor mapping of land, and that the Agriculture Minister Michelle Gildernew had said nobody was to blame. But he reminded me that way back in 2001 the Assembly’s Public Accounts Committee investigated allegations of fraud in farm payments.

    Their report contained the following paragraph (and this is where Yogi Berra’s malapropism came to mind) “we were astounded to hear that maps as old as 1938 and 1963 were still being used by the Department and that this contributed to the ridiculous outcome that grants were being claimed on the basis of land at Clement Wilson Park, Barnett’s Demesne (including car park area), Sir Thomas and Lady Dixon Park and Dunmurry Golf Club and included large areas of recreational land, a wildlife reserve and rosebeds. It is equally surprising that staff in the Lisburn Office handling these claims did not recognise their fraudulent nature. We welcome the assurances by the Accounting Officer that they are moving very quickly towards a much more sophisticated mapping system and that site inspections are now undertaken of all new land registered by farmers.”

    Good we sorted out those mapping problems so promptly.

  • Pippakin

    Pete Baker


    However, cant stop laughing, the EU is going back a decade, they should have held up payments then, not come round with the big whip now…

    I admit at first I did think it was all Ms Gildernews fault but she does seem to be trying to pick up the pieces and since the wretched EU mandarins knew there was a problem what were they doing throwing good money after bad…Sorry got the giggles….

  • fin

    is it relevant to say that most of the fines are for time periods when NI was under direct rule, 2005 – 2008, althought I understand that fines are also in the offing for more recent years. While London was messing up EU handouts in NI they were doing the same on the ‘mainland’ unfortunately their cockups there resulted in several suicides by bankrupted farmers

  • Pippakin

    Can I just point out one hundred million is not that much to flush down the toilet. Not when it is compared to the billions. Oh, I’m so sorry, trillions flushed away by financial experts. Or perhaps I should say ‘salted away’…

  • HeinzGuderian

    You carry on there Mich,ya big girl ye………’s nathin compared to the Big City Bankers……….Holey sweet Jebus,and his blessed Ma……………LOL !!!! Sorry,I have the giggles now…….:-)

  • Pippakin


    Have you been over indulging???

  • medillen

    Maybe you din’t notice in her statement but the entire £64 million is already paid for with no cost the the budget in north, coming some some underspends within her own department but mostly from Executive underspends which could not be used and were destined to be returned to the British Treasury. Therefore she may even have saved a few innocent lives in Afganistan by depriving the Brits some additional money for their war chest.