Sinn Féin spokesperson on agriculture, Matt Carthy, has said that figures released by the European Commission show Ireland as one of the ‘least effective countries in utilising crisis reserve funds for the benefit of farmers’.
Ireland received €15.8 million from the European Crisis Reserve (ECR) and the European Commission gave member states flexibility to increase supports to farmers by up to 200%.
This was through direct exchequer funding, potentially unlocking a further €31.6 million in supports for Irish farmers, according to the Sinn Féin TD.
He said that, by failing to provide any co-financing at all, Ireland was one of just seven states that chose not to do so.
“Often, the government cites EU rules as reason not to intervene in the cost-of-living crisis. In this instance the EU has provided for the government to support struggling farmers to the tune of €31.6 million,” deputy Carthy said.
“But, Minister [for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie] McConalogue chose to provide the bare minimum of funds available to him, refusing to co-finance by up to 200%, and therefore denying farmers of €31.6 million in additional supports.
“In doing so he bucked the trend, as 19 ministers across the European Union did provide additional supports through co-financing.”
The Sinn Féin TD said that 14 countries chose to co-finance at levels of at least 196%, illustrating the value that those governments put on the crisis reserve to alleviate the financial burden being borne by farmers.
Deputy Carthy continued:
“Unfortunately, this is a minister who has a track record of delivering the bare minimum for Irish farmers, who have to-date received only €3 million from the €1.05 billion Brexit Adjustment Reserve, as opposed to the meat processors who received €100 million.
“While the minister had to notify the commission as to his plans regarding the ECR by the end of June, I believe if he re-engages with them now requesting permission to activate the co-financing mechanism, it would receive a fair hearing.
“The minister and government have a second chance to address their failure to unlock these funds for Irish farming families – they must urgently avail of it,” he concluded.