‘Ireland has to be included in list of 70% advance payment countries’

Ireland has to be included in the list of countries permitted to issue 70% advance payments from mid-October, according to rural TD Michael Fitzmaurice.

Deputy Fitzmaurice believes that the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed, must go to Europe and demand that Ireland be included in the number of member states allowed to make a 70% advance Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) and Greening payments.

The fact that this has not been done already has been described as “quite incredible” by the rural TD, who represents the Roscommon-Galway constituency.

“The commission has decided that 10 member states have been deemed eligible to make the advance payments from October 16 under various headings, including difficult weather conditions.

“Has the minister not been looking at the weather here over the past six to eight weeks? Has he not seen what has gone on in Donegal with the devastation of the flooding?

Surely this qualifies Ireland for early payment as it has been a very difficult month of August for many farmers.

“Minister Creed has been asleep at the wheel on this issue and he needs to go to Europe immediately and secure early payment status for Ireland, because our situation is just as serious as the other states which have received this derogation,” he said.

As it stands an advance payment of 50% will be issued to farmers in the Republic of Ireland on October 16, with balancing payments being issued from the beginning of December.

“Remember too that this is our own money that we are asking for, as we are now net contributors to EU funds. I am calling on Minister Creed to act immediately on this very important issue,” Deputy Fitzmaurice concluded.

The rural TD is not the only one calling for the advance payment limit to be increased. The Deputy President of the Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers Association (ICMSA), Pat McCormack, said the omission of Ireland from the listed member states was not acceptable.

McCormack also urged Minister Creed to revisit the matter with the commission and insist that Ireland is added to the group of member states presently permitted to make the 70% advance payment from October 16.