Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Agriculture, Éamon Ó Cuív TD, has criticised the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, for refusing to give replies to simple questions raised in the Dáil.

Deputy Ó Cuív said that last week, the Minister refused to give an estimate of the expenditure in the existing Rural Environemnt Protection Scheme (REPS) in the years 2013, 2014 and 2015, even though no new members can join the scheme and the Department is aware of the likely number of members to leave the scheme each year. 

“I also requested that an estimate should be given to the expenditure under the AEOS 1, 2, and 3 schemes in the same years,” said Deputy Ó Cuív.

“It would be a very simple matter for the Minister to give this information, but he refuses point blank to do so. Similarly, I asked him in the Dáil about the number of people who had applied for a derogation under the Disadvantaged Area Scheme (DAS) and he refused to give this information. He also refused to give information in relation to the number of derogations granted to-date and the number refused. 

“This Government promised openness and transparency but is acting in a totally contradictory manner, refusing to give the most basic information to Teachta Dála. I now call on the Minister to give the information requested. It would appear that the Minister is afraid in relation to the AEOS and REPS schemes and the amount of money that will be paid out under the REPS and AEOS combined over the next three years will decline rapidly. 

“In relation to the DAS, it would appear that the Minister is unwilling to admit that he was wrong regarding inactive farmers. In fact, the vast majority of farmers who have low stocking rates are farming to the capacity of the land, in many cases they have low stocking rates because of the poor quality of land and the restrictions placed on them by the Department of Agriculture and the Departments of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht.

“The Minister has put farmers through a huge bureaucratic exercise to no avail and is now trying to hide these facts from the people. I would urge him to furnish the required information so farmers can have an idea of the added challenges they face,” concluded Deputy Ó Cuív.