IFA President Eddie Downey has called on the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Jimmy Deenihan, to allow farmers who have suffered damage to their land as a result of the recent floods to carry out remedial works. At a meeting with Minister Deenihan, it was impressed on him that his Department must not use the designation of land as an excuse to deny farmers the opportunity to protect their land where the flood barriers are SAC or SPA in coastal and river basin areas.
Eddie Downey also raised the issue of changing the date to allow for burning of gorse from 25th February to 15th April. The Minister told IFA that the date would be reviewed and a process to bring this about would start shortly with a conclusion later this year. The current end of February date is not working and must be changed.
In relation to payments to farmers for restrictions imposed, the IFA President impressed on Minister Deenihan the need to ensure that the necessary support and structure was in put place in the Rural Development Programme under the GLAS scheme. It was also pointed out to Minister Deenihan that he had a responsibility to ensure that payments from his Department are maintained to deal with specific designated areas which were not covered by the RDP.
In relation to the interim payment due to farmers in the Maumturk area of Connemara and the Nephin area of Co Mayo, Eddie Downey said farmers in these areas are being left high and dry by Minister Deenihan. He said, “Farmers were forced to destock their sheep with severe farming restrictions applying over the past 5 to 6 years. With plans now finished for most farmers, there is no alternative environment scheme despite the fact that they are still restricted. It is vital that Minister Deenihan authorises payment for these farmers”.
Other items raised with Minister Deenihan were easing of forestry restrictions in Hen Harrier areas and a proper appeals system for farmers who are restricted by designations.