It remains unclear if applicants for the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) that were impacted by the 2020 Leitrim landslide will remain eligible for payment next year.

Speaking about the landslide in the Dáil, the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Charlie McConalogue indicated that it has not yet been determined if those who were affected by the incident, will be able to avail of the scheme in 2023.

He said: “As far as scheme eligibility of the overspill areas as agricultural land is concerned, these have remained eligible for payment under the BPS, and other schemes administered by my department because the applicants have been able to avail of the provisions of force majeure for the 2020, 2021 and 2022 scheme years.

“This means I have been able to protect these farmers’ crucial payments in these years. The matter is under review for the year ahead.”

The landslide, which occurred on Shass Mountain in Co. Leitrim on June 28, 2020, caused an area of blanket bog to move downhill following heavy rainfall.

The liquified peat moved approximately 7km, before spreading out and settling on a total agricultural area of approximately 24ha and a total forestry area of approximately 12ha, as mapped by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM).

The implicated land belonged to 20 different landowners, 19 of whom were BPS claimants.

Minister McConalogue made his statements in response to a question from independent TD for Sligo-Leitrim Marian Harkin, who questioned the government’s progress on the creation of a compensation package for those affected.

Following the minister’s comments on BPS eligibility, deputy Harkin said:

“The minister talked about the farm payments being kept under review for 2023. What does that mean? Let us say there was a compensation package, is the minister able to tell me how that might interact with their farm payments?

“I am not just disappointed; I cannot believe it is not completed.”

Minister McConalogue did not answer these questions but said that the DAFM and the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform have “a very clear” outline of a support package, which he hopes to have concluded by the end of the year. He said:

“What happened to this community has been quite a traumatic event. It has affected the long-term capacity of all those landowners to use this land for agricultural purposes in future.

“The cost of moving in and clearing the land would be €20 million, which is simply unfeasible. It would be biologically dangerous as well given the potential impact on watercourses and the environment, so it is important we bring in a package that recognises the long-term impact on farming communities and on the local communities.

“We are expediting this and I hope to have it resolved shortly,” he concluded.