IFA President John Bryan has challenged Labour Party Chairman Colm Keaveney TD to withdraw false and inflammatory statements he has made in the media concerning farmers’ eligibility for third level grants.
Mr. Bryan said “there is an obligation on Deputy Keaveney to publicly acknowledge that the system of third level grants as set out in SI no. 189 of 2012 expressly states that farmers cannot use capital allowances or other investments in plant and machinery to reduce their income for grant eligibility purposes. In the interest of fair and truthful public debate, Deputy Keaveney needs to correct his public utterances on this issue or else I would expect Labour Party Leader Eamon Gilmore to hold him to account and insist that he does so.”
The IFA President said “it is regrettable that the debate on the reform of the system of third level grants has been marred by a high level of misinformation, which has been fuelled by claims that farmers can write off capital investments against income, so driving down reckonable earnings for grant purposes”.
Mr. Bryan said “statements made by Deputy Keaveney are clearly wrong and do a major disservice not just to farmers but to the public who are entitled to expect accuracy in debate from their public representatives”.
“When politicians make serious errors of fact, they have a responsibility to put the record straight in the public interest. I am calling on Deputy Keaveney to withdraw the false statements he has made on this issue and to accept the fact that in calculating reckonable income for grant purposes, farmers cannot make any deductions for capital expenditure”.
The IFA President referred specifically to extensive comments by the Galway East Deputy as reported in last weekend’s Sunday Business Post. “Deputy Keaveney’s false claims about the current grant system are inflammatory and his throwaway remarks about spending a quarter of a million on a harvestor inevitably give rise to an urban/rural divide. His efforts to divide farmers on this issue are equally disgraceful”.