AFBI’s incentive scheme for scientific innovation ‘does not sit well’ with Stormont’s PAC

Small matter, but it is worth noting. Stormont’s Public Accounts Committee found an interesting detail in the relevant NIAO report that, it should be said did not particularly feature in the Audit Office report as a genuine matter of concern. The subject organisation is the Agri-Food & Biosciences Institute (AFBI) at New Forge in Belfast, and as the BBC notes… …the institute’s coffers had been boosted by £20m plus of income from royalties from patents filed on scientific discoveries from …

Read more…

Northern Ireland dog food infiltration known about seven years ago…

So according to the Elliot Report, food crime has been identified as a problem in Northern Ireland since 2005, but nothing was done about it because of a resource problem. Conor Macauley reports for the BBC: UK customers had “access to perhaps the safest food in the world”, but said government should consider a new food crime unit to help prevent a repeat of the horsemeat scandal earlier this year. The report did not state where in Northern Ireland the …

Read more…

Lough Neagh Working Group: “This report may never see the light of day.”

As the Belfast Telegraph reports, having set up a inter-departmental Working Group by September last year, “to explore and pursue actively the potential for a cross-departmental approach to bring Lough Neagh back into public ownership”, the Northern Ireland Minister for Agriculture and Rural Development, Sinn Fein’s Michelle O’Neill has lost the group’s report down the back of the sofa told the DUP MLA Paul Frew that the report “is [still] going through due process”.  [It’s not for sale! – Ed]  “but if the assembly …

Read more…

DARD also appointing more Catholics than Protestants (as well as DCAL and DRD)…

Well, without adding too many caveats to this one, I think Jim Allister is on to something with his posting of the latest employment figures at DARD… It’s a spectacular outcome when you consider “24 Protestants were appointed from 159 applicants and 20 RCs from just 74 applicants”. Now the caveats. We really ought to see what the picture is across all departments. And as one commenter on Slugger’s Facebook page noted: …with Catholics being majority at universities here, they …

Read more…

“the largest capital grant scheme ever run by the Department of Agriculture”

The BBC’s Martin Cassidy notes the NI Audit Office report into the Farm Nutrient Management Scheme, through which some 4000 farmers received grants worth £121million – the largest capital grant scheme ever run by the Department of Agriculture. When, in June 2007, the NI Finance Department gave its formal approval to extend the scheme to provide grant aid to all applications received before 31 March 2006, they had raised concerns about the affordability of the scheme.  One of the conditions of the formal …

Read more…

DARD budget to be cut by 18% over four years

A couple of points to note from the BBC report on comments by a Northern Ireland Department of Agriculture senior civil servant to the NI Assembly committee.  The 18% budget cut over the next four years matches the earlier reported cut of 17.2% in the budget of the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure.  Then there’s this The department official said no assumptions were being made about where cuts will be made and whether jobs will be lost. He also revealed a …

Read more…

“If the [EU] Commission asks what progress has been made… the departments will be exposed”

BBC NI’s Mike McKimm reports on five years of failure to act by the Northern Ireland Departments of the Environment, and Agriculture, following a formal written warning from the EU Commission in 2005 over the plight of [protected species] horse mussel beds in Strangford Lough [added link].  A Freedom of Information request was involved. The ministers concerned did manage to summon the press for a photo-opportunity on the issue in January 2009.  But that’s about the only activity we’ve seen.  From the BBC report Again …

Read more…