Houses of the Oireachtas

All parliamentary debates are now being published on our new website. The publication of debates on this website will cease in December 2018.

Go to oireachtas.ie

 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 455-475
 Header Item Hospital Appointments Status
 Header Item Home Care Packages
 Header Item Hospital Facilities
 Header Item Lobbying Data
 Header Item GLAS Payments
 Header Item Areas of Natural Constraint Scheme Funding
 Header Item Animal Welfare
 Header Item Animal Slaughtering Data
 Header Item Animal Welfare
 Header Item Fur Farming
 Header Item Sheep Welfare Scheme Expenditure
 Header Item Gender Equality
 Header Item Tax Code
 Header Item Departmental Functions
 Header Item Areas of Natural Constraint Scheme Payments
 Header Item Brexit Documents
 Header Item Greyhound Industry
 Header Item Areas of Natural Constraint Scheme
 Header Item Agri-Environment Options Scheme Appeals
 Header Item Flood Relief Schemes

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 960 No. 1

First Page Previous Page Page of 95 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 455-475

Hospital Appointments Status

 455. Deputy John Brassil Information on John Brassil Zoom on John Brassil asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris if a hospital appointment for a person (details supplied) can be expedited; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42391/17]

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris Under the Health Act 2004, the Health Service Executive, HSE, is required to manage and deliver, or arrange to be delivered on its behalf, health and personal social services. Section 6 of the HSE Governance Act 2013 bars the Minister for Health from directing the HSE to provide a treatment or a personal service to any individual or to confer eligibility on any individual.

The scheduling of appointments for patients is a matter for the hospital to which the patient has been referred. Should a patient's general practitioner consider that the patient's condition warrants an earlier appointment, he or she should take the matter up with the consultant and the hospital involved. In relation to the specific case raised, I have asked the HSE to respond to the Deputy directly..

Home Care Packages

 456. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris the level of home care available to a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42415/17]

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Finian McGrath): Information on Finian McGrath Zoom on Finian McGrath As the Deputy's question relates to an individual case, I have arranged for the question to be referred to the Health Service Executive for direct reply to the Deputy.

Hospital Facilities

 457. Deputy Anne Rabbitte Information on Anne Rabbitte Zoom on Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris the position regarding cancelled surgery for persons resulting form repairs being carried out at Merlin Park Hospital, Galway; the location to which staff are being deployed; the location to which the ten orthopaedic consultants are being deployed; and the timeframe, locations and waiting lists for priority surgery  [42446/17]

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris The Saolta University Healthcare Group has advised that a leak developed in the roof of a building in the Merlin Park Hospital campus that houses the Hospital's two orthopaedic theatres on 4 September. Hospital management temporarily suspended operations for a week to facilitate the Galway University Hospital Buildings and Maintenance Unit to effect repairs.

Following discovery of a second leak on 13 September, a multi-disciplinary team in the Saolta Group, consisting of Hospital Management and Infection Control staff and HSE Estates, took the decision to suspend elective orthopaedic surgical services in Merlin Park Hospital. There has been no elective surgical procedures carried out at Merlin Park since that date. Saolta and the University Hospital Galway management team have engaged an external engineering firm to carry out a full assessment of the damage and provide a timeframe for the completion of repairs. Hospital Management advises that it is contacting patients whose procedures have been deferred to explain the situation and assure those patients of the Hospital's commitment to ensuring they are rescheduled in as timely a manner as possible.

On Wednesday 4 October, I met with the Saolta Hospital Group Management, representatives of the consultant orthopaedic surgeons at the Hospital, HSE Acute Hospitals and Estate Divisions as well as local T.D.s to discuss the next steps in addressing the issue.

The Saolta Group has advised that it is working with the orthopaedic surgeons and staff of the Hospital and more widely across Galway University Hospitals to implement solutions pending completion of the repairs.

Interim solutions being progressed include: utilising additional bed capacity at University Hospital Galway to enable some further elective procedures to be carried out; engaging with local private hospitals regarding the potential to access theatre capacity to carry out orthopaedic surgery; and engaging the hospitals within the Saolta Group, in other Hospital Groups and the NTPF regarding capacity at other hospitals.

Furthermore, the Saolta Group and HSE Estates are working to progress a mobile theatre unit at Merlin Park Hospital as quickly as possible.

The Saolta Group and HSE have committed to provide a contingency plan that deals service demand.

I acknowledge the upset that this suspension of service has caused the patients affected and their family. The Saolta Group and the HSE have assured me that they are committed to resolving the issue as quickly as possible. I have asked the HSE to respond to the Deputy directly regarding service matters such as staff redeployment. .

Lobbying Data

 458. Deputy Micheál Martin Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed the bilateral meetings he has had with his European counterparts and the EU Council and European Commission presidents since he took office in which he raised specifically the concerns of Irish and European beef farmers that have campaigned for beef not to form part of the potential Mercosur deal, by each European government counterpart, meeting location and date of each meeting, in tabular form.  [42812/17]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Michael Creed): Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed I and my Department have been very active in highlighting the potentially very damaging impact of a Mercosur deal on the European and Irish beef sectors.

  At political level, I have repeatedly raised the issue with Member State colleagues and with Commissioners Hogan and Malmström, both at AgriFish Council and in other forms. For example, after an intensive campaign led by myself and my French counterpart in early 2016, the European Commission did not include a tariff rate quota for beef in the exchange of offers with Mercosur in May.

  Since that time, we have remained vigilant and have reminded the Commission at every opportunity of the need to closely consult Member States before negotiations are progressed, and to ensure that it takes account of both the findings of its own cumulative impact assessment of November 2016 and the new threat presented by the potential implications of Brexit for an already delicately balanced EU beef market.

  France and Ireland have also been active most recently in working with nine other Member States on a joint paper that was submitted to the European Commission on 26 September outlining our shared concerns. 

  I have also written recently to Commissioner Malmstroem on the matter, and Minister of State, Deputy Andrew Doyle, raised the issue with a number of other Member States and with the Commission at the AgriFish Council in Luxembourg on 9  October. The Taoiseach also raised the matter directly with President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, at the recent European summit in Estonia recently.  

  These efforts have been reinforced at official level through similar contacts with Member States and the Commission, including through the Special Committee on Agriculture and the Trade Policy Committee, where Ireland has recently made strong interventions opposing the making of an offer on beef at this time.

  I also continue to monitor the situation closely in co-operation with my Government colleagues, including the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, and the Taoiseach, and to mobilise support among like-minded Member States. .

  A list of meetings at which I raised the question of Mercosur with European counterparts to date is outlined below, but of course these formal contacts are supplemented by ongoing contacts with other member states and the Commission at official level:

Meeting Name Date
Agri-Fish Council-Brussels 18/07/2016
Agri-Fish Council-Brussels 14-15/11/2016
Agri-Fish Council-Brussels 23/01/2017
Agri-Fish Council-Brussels 12-13/06/2017
Agri-Fish Council-Brussels 17-18/07/2017
Minister Creed meeting with French Agriculture Minister, Stephane Travert 24/07/2017
Agri-Fish Council-Brussels 09/10/2017

GLAS Payments

 459. Deputy Pearse Doherty Information on Pearse Doherty Zoom on Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed when a person (details supplied) in County Donegal can expect to receive a decision in respect of a GLAS payment; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42489/17]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Michael Creed): Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed The person named was approved into GLAS 1 with a contract commencement date of 1 October 2015.

  An inspection was carried out on the holding resulting in a penalty for non-compliance with the maintenance requirements for the, "low input permanent pasture" and "planting new hedgerow", actions. The person requested a review of the findings of the inspection to the responsible Regional Inspector in the Department who upheld the inspection findings. The person named was notified in writing of the outcome of this review and of their right of appeal to the independent Agriculture Appeals Office.

Areas of Natural Constraint Scheme Funding

 460. Deputy Declan Breathnach Information on Declan Breathnach Zoom on Declan Breathnach asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed if in line with a promise made in the programme for Government the promised €25 million increase for areas of natural constraint, ANC, payments will be made later in 2017; if provision for this will be included in Budget 2018; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [42551/17]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Michael Creed): Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed The Areas of Natural Constraint, ANC, Scheme is a very important source of financial support for farmers across the country, paying over €200 million each year to over 95,000 farmers. The Programme for a Partnership Government provides for a commitment of a €25 million increase in funding for the Scheme in 2018. This now falls for consideration in the context of discussions on Budget 2018.

  Any changes to the ANC  would require formal agreement with the European Commission via a formal amendment of the Rural Development Programme, 2014-2020.

  The 2017 ANC payments commenced on 19 September and to date,  €176 million has been paid to in excess of 81,500 farmers. Payments are continuing on a rolling basis as more farmers satisfy eligibility and stocking rate requirements.

  I am pleased to note that 2017 payments are ahead of where they were this time last year.

Animal Welfare

 461. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan Information on Thomas P. Broughan Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed the number of calls to his Department's animal welfare helpline in 2015 to 2016 and to date in 2017; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42559/17]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Michael Creed): Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed My predecessor, Minister Coveney, established the animal welfare helpline and associated email service in 2012. This helpline facilitates the reporting by members of the public of any suspicion of poor animal welfare or animal cruelty taking place – whether within the realm of a farming situation, a sporting or recreational activity, or indeed in a public place or an urban setting. I think increased public awareness of animal welfare, in conjunction with this confidential means of reporting issues, has proven to be very effective in the expedition of rapid responses to reports of alleged animal welfare issues throughout the country. The helpline streamlines and consolidates the good work in the area of animal welfare already carried out by Department staff and associated agencies of the State as well as animal welfare organisations and the public as a whole.

  For a direct comparison on the figures for 2017 to date, it may be helpful to note that my Department received 512 calls for the period January to September, inclusive, in 2016.

  The line is Lo-call  0761 064408 with a dedicated email address of: AnimalWelfare@agriculture.gov.ie

  The number of calls to the Animal Welfare Helpline for 2015 to 2016 and to date in 2017 are as follows:

Year   Number of calls
2015 687
2016 652
2017 to date 526

Animal Slaughtering Data

 462. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan Information on Thomas P. Broughan Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed the number of horses slaughtered for human consumption in 2015 to 2016 and to date in 2017; the number of approved equine slaughter establishments in 2015 to 2016 and to date in 2017, by county; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42560/17]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Michael Creed): Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed There are currently two establishments approved by my Department to operate as equine slaughter plants under Regulation (EC) No 853/2004 of the European Parliament and of the Council laying down specific hygiene rules for food of animal origin on the hygiene of foodstuffs.

  The plants are located in County Kilkenny and County Kildare.

  The number of horses slaughtered for human consumption in 2015 to 2016 and to date in 2017 are set out in the table below.

  No. of equines slaughtered for human consumption 2015 to September 2017.

Year No.
2015 6033
2016 7618
2017 to date 5837

Animal Welfare

 463. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan Information on Thomas P. Broughan Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed the number of prosecutions under the Animal Health and Welfare Act 2013, in 2016 and to date in 2017; the number of prosecution files being processed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42561/17]

 464. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan Information on Thomas P. Broughan Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed the number of convictions under the Animal Health and Welfare Act 2013, in each of the years 2014 to 2016 and to date in 2017, by district; the number of prosecution files being processed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42562/17]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Michael Creed): Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed I propose to take Questions Nos. 463 and 464 together.

  The Animal Health and Welfare Act 2013 has changed the basis upon which animal owners must treat their animals and is specifically designed to allow early intervention in a much wider range of cases than the previous legislation allowed for. Thus minor cases can be tackled before they escalate and the Act is a vehicle to encourage and educate animal keepers. This new approach means that authorised officers are addressing problems while they are relatively minor, reducing the risk of escalation.

  Enforcement is a complex issue, so a progressive aspect of the Act is that it does not just focus on prosecution, which is only appropriate in cases where there have been serious welfare issues that can be clearly demonstrated to the courts. The new enforcement approach reflects the need to intervene as early as possible in animal welfare situations. This approach is aided by The Early Warning/Intervention System, EWS, initiative introduced by the Farm Animal Welfare Advisory Council involving, among others, my Department, the Irish Farmers' Association and the Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals which provides a framework within which farm animal welfare problems can be identified before they become critical or overwhelming.

  The Act provides for animal health and welfare notices to be issued by authorised officers. This means that minor situations can be addressed at an early stage and that encouragement, guidance and best practice are introduced rather than just punishment. It also provides for fixed penalty notices to be issued in minor cases and allows authorised officers to seize and re-home animals where the owner’s capacity to care for their animals is being overwhelmed. Furthermore the Act contains provisions that where an individual convicted of serious animal welfare offences may be banned by the courts from keeping animals, or indeed have the numbers of animals they may keep restricted.

  The provisions of the Act are enforced by authorised officers of my Department, An Garda Síochána, officers of Customs and Excise and authorised officers of ISPCA and DSPCA, along with individual officers of the Turf Club and Bord na gCon. This approach provides a large cross-section of experienced officials whom are aware of welfare issues and can flag them up as and when they arise.

  The table sets out the position in respect of cases initiated and prosecuted for the years 2014-16. Ten cases have been initiated in 2017.

  An Garda Síochána may initiate cases independently of my Department.

  By date of offence:

Cases Under AHWA 2013 by County Initiated - 2014 Prosecuted - 2014 Initiated - 2015 Prosecuted - 2015 Initiated - 2016 Prosecuted
Carlow 1 1 3 1 2 0
Cavan 0 0 3 1 1 0
Clare 0 0 0 0 1 0
Cork 1 1 5 3 3 2
Donegal 1 1 2 0 0 0
Dublin 2 0 2 1 3 1
Galway 0 0 1 0 0 0
Kerry 0 0 0 0 0 0
Kildare 0 0 0 0 1 0
Kilkenny 1 0 0 0 3 0
Laois 1 0 1 0 1 0
Leitrim 0 0 0 0 0 0
Limerick 0 0 1 0 1 1
Longford 0 0 0 0 0 0
Louth 1 0 0 0 2 2
Mayo 0 0 0 0 0 0
Meath 1 1 7 6 4 2
Monaghan 0 0 0 0 0 0
Offaly 0 0 0 0 1 0
Roscommon 2 2 0 0 1 0
Sligo 0 0 0 0 0 0
Tipperary 0 0 3 2 1 1
Waterford 0 0 1 1 1 1
Westmeath 0 0 0 0 0 0
Wexford 0 0 0 0 0 0
Wicklow 1 1 5 3 2 0
Total 12 7 34 18 28 10

Fur Farming

 465. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan Information on Thomas P. Broughan Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed the number of inspections of mink fur farms in each year since 2012; the number of scheduled inspections; the number of unannounced inspections; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42563/17]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Michael Creed): Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed There are currently three mink fur farms operating in Ireland. The number of farms reduced from four to three in 2014.

  Inspections of these farms relating to their licensing and to animal welfare matters are carried out by officers from my Department.

  Since 2012, there have been 62 inspections carried out of which 39 have been unannounced, breakdown for each year is as follows:

2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017
4 18 (12 unannounced) 11 (9 unannounced) 12 (9 unannounced) 12 (9 unannounced) 5 to date


  In 2011, a Review Group was established to examine all aspects of fur farming in Ireland.  On foot of the report that was published in 2012, my Department introduced more rigorous controls on fur farms in the areas of animal welfare, animal accommodation, security and nutrient management. Fur farms are subject to regular inspections, including unannounced inspections by Department officials on foot this report.

Sheep Welfare Scheme Expenditure

 466. Deputy Declan Breathnach Information on Declan Breathnach Zoom on Declan Breathnach asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed if his attention has been drawn to the fact that, of the €25 million announced in December 2016 for the Sheep Welfare Scheme, only €20 million of this has been spent; if additional funding will be granted for an enhanced sheep welfare scheme in Budget 2018; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [42572/17]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Michael Creed): Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed In December 2016, I introduced the Sheep Welfare Scheme to contribute to  the continuing viability and sustainability of the sheep sector in Ireland. The scheme complements the range of other supports available to sheep farmers under schemes such as the Basic Payment Scheme, GLAS, TAMS, Knowledge Transfer and the Areas of Natural Constraint scheme.

The details of the Sheep Welfare Scheme, including the amount of payment to participants, were approved by the European Commission in 2016. The payment rates are based on the agreed costings underlying the actions to be undertaken in the scheme, and an increase in the funding allocated would thus require changes to the actions currently being undertaken by farmers, or the addition of new actions. Any such changes to the details of the scheme would require the agreement of the European Commission via the formal Rural Development Programme amendment process. Advance payments under the first year of the Sheep Welfare Scheme are due to commence issuing later this year..

Gender Equality

 467. Deputy Charlie McConalogue Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed the funding avenues available to a group (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42609/17]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Michael Creed): Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed As the Deputy will be aware, women are taking on a more formal role in agriculture, with increased acknowledgement of their contribution to management and labour input on family farms. They play a major role in farm diversification, and their off-farm employment often makes a vital contribution to farm household viability. However, the latest available data indicates that farms with a sole female farm holder registered on my Department's client database accounted for 13% of farms; 10% of eligible land; and 8% of payments. Only 3.8% of farms are registered in joint female/male names.

A number of clarifications and amendments to the Irish tax code have been driven by my Department, in conjunction with the Department of Finance, to reduce taxation measures acting as a de facto barrier to greater female participation in agriculture, and particularly to registering farms in joint names.

My Department also funds the ACORNS programme to address the skills, enterprise and capability gaps of rural start up female entrepreneurs. ACORNS, financed by my Department’s Rural Innovation and Development Fund, is a valuable opportunity to encourage increased farm diversification through mentoring female rural entrepreneurs in a wide range of sectors.

The programme provides participants with the knowledge, support and networking opportunities to meet and even exceed their business goals. Over 100 women have already graduated from it, and many of these past participants have reported increased sales, exports and jobs as a result of the programme. In August, I was delighted to announce the launch of year three of the ACORNS programme, with 56 new places.

I wish to commend the founders of North West Women in Farming Ireland. I am very pleased to see the emergence of, "women in agriculture", groups around the country and I hope that the sector will support them..

Tax Code

 468. Deputy Charlie McConalogue Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed if he will consider a submission (details supplied) and introduce the amendments suggested within the submission as part of Budget 2018; if not, the reasons therefor; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [42610/17]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Michael Creed): Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed This issue has only recently come to my attention and, as he is primarily responsible for taxation policy, I will raise it with my colleague the Minister for Finance.

Departmental Functions

 469. Deputy Billy Kelleher Information on Billy Kelleher Zoom on Billy Kelleher asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed the powers he has delegated to the Ministers of State in his Department; the date on which such delegation was made; if there were changes in powers delegated relative to the situation in place prior to 14 June 2017; if so, the details of same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42772/17]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Michael Creed): Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed Deputy Andrew Doyle was appointed as Minister of State in my Department on 20 June 2017, with special responsibility for Food, Forestry and Horticulture. Minister Doyle’s responsibilities include: the implementation of the 2014-2020 Forestry Programme, delivering on the horticulture actions identified in Food Wise 2025, including capital investment for developments in the sector, support for the organic sector, including the delivery of new capital investment for this sector as part of the Targeted Agricultural Modernisation Schemes, TAMS II, under the Rural Development Programme. Other responsibilities include the implementation of the Indecon Report recommendations for the greyhound sector and exploring the potential for energy crops.

I will shortly be bringing a memo to Government regarding the Delegation of Ministerial Functions to Minister Doyle.

There are no changes to the functions delegated to Minister Doyle relative to the situation in place prior to 14 June 2017..

Areas of Natural Constraint Scheme Payments

 470. Deputy Eamon Scanlon Information on Eamon Scanlon Zoom on Eamon Scanlon asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed if approval will be given to an emergency top up to the areas of natural constraint payment for farmers under severe financial pressure due to incessant rainfall in recent months; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [42790/17]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Michael Creed): Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed The Areas of Natural Constraint, ANC, Scheme is a very important source of financial support for farmers across the country, paying over €200 million each year to over 95,000 farmers. The Programme for a Partnership Government provides for a commitment of a €25 million increase in funding for the Scheme in 2018. This now falls for consideration in the context of discussions on Budget 2018. 

The 2017 ANC payments commenced on 19 September and to date, €176 million has been paid to in excess of 81,500 farmers. Payments are continuing on a rolling basis as more farmers satisfy eligibility and stocking rate requirements. 

I am pleased to note that 2017 payments are ahead of where they were this time last year..

Brexit Documents

 471. Deputy Brendan Smith Information on Brendan Smith Zoom on Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed his views on an European Commission memo in relation to the trading of agrifood products on an all Ireland basis; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [42809/17]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Michael Creed): Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed I assume the Deputy is referring to a report, contained in an RTE news bulletin last week, relating to the trade of agrifood products on an all-Ireland basis. The news item referred to a leaked internal Commission document, dating back to last February, which referred to the possibility of agrifood trade being carried out on an all-Ireland basis after Brexit.

  The document in question has no official status, and I think should be seen as an internal exploration at that time of possible ideas for dealing with the very serious issues facing the island of Ireland as a result of the UK decision to leave the EU.

  The situation has moved on considerably since then.  In the interim, the UK has published papers on both the Northern Ireland/Ireland issue and the Future Customs Arrangements, while the Commission has published its paper on Guiding Principles for the Dialogue on Ireland/Northern Ireland. The Commission document states, inter alia, that, “the onus to propose solutions which overcome the challenges created on the island of Ireland by the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union and its decision to leave the customs union and the internal market remains on the United Kingdom”. This is in keeping with the Government's approach to the matter.

  My Department's continued priority for the agrifood sector is to ensure that the EU-UK relationship post-Brexit remains as close to current arrangements as possible, with continued free access to the UK market, without tariffs and with minimal additional customs and administrative procedures.

Greyhound Industry

 472. Deputy Mick Wallace Information on Mick Wallace Zoom on Mick Wallace asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed the number of doping tests undertaken out of competition at kennels since the introduction of such testing; the number of disqualification orders issued for greyhounds involved in anti-doping breaches in each year since 2010, in tabular form; and the number of licences that have been revoked for trainers found to have committed anti-doping breaches in each year since 2010, in tabular form.  [42818/17]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Michael Creed): Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed Bord na gCon is a commercial State body, established under the Greyhound Industry Act, 1958, chiefly to control greyhound racing and to improve and develop the greyhound industry.

  Bord na gCon is a body corporate and a separate legal entity to the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine.

  Accordingly, the information being requested by the Deputy has been forwarded to Bord na gCon for direct reply.  

Areas of Natural Constraint Scheme

 473. Deputy Eugene Murphy Information on Eugene Murphy Zoom on Eugene Murphy asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed if he has given consideration to top up funding of ANC payments to persons in counties Sligo, Leitrim, Mayo, Roscommon, Galway, Cavan and Longford due to incessant rainfall in these areas in recent months which has caused ongoing financial hardship; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42861/17]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Michael Creed): Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed The Areas of Natural Constraint, ANC, Scheme is a very important source of financial support for farmers across the country, paying over €200 million each year to over 95,000 farmers. The Programme for a Partnership Government provides for a commitment of a €25 million increase in funding for the Scheme in 2018. This now falls for consideration in the context of discussions on Budget 2018. 

The 2017 ANC payments commenced on 19 September and to date, €176 million has been paid to in excess of 81,500 farmers. Payments are continuing on a rolling basis as more farmers satisfy eligibility and stocking rate requirements. 

I am pleased to note that 2017 payments are ahead of where they were this time last year..

Agri-Environment Options Scheme Appeals

 474. Deputy Tom Neville Information on Tom Neville Zoom on Tom Neville asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed if a further review will be carried out on an AEOS 2 scheme in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42865/17]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Michael Creed): Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed The position in relation to the person named is that it is open to them or their representative to submit a request for a further review in relation to the AEOS 2 Scheme, in writing, setting out the grounds on which they wish to request a further review. It is open to them to submit this request including any relevant supporting documentation they may wish to submit to the Regional Inspector for the area not later than 25 October 2017..

Flood Relief Schemes

 475. Deputy Pearse Doherty Information on Pearse Doherty Zoom on Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed the steps he will take to ensure that the flood relief scheme for farmers in County Donegal, administered by his Department, compensates persons (details supplied) whose losses are financially devastating and have been assessed by Teagasc. [42924/17]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Michael Creed): Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed The Deputy will be aware I visited the Inishowen Peninsula with my Government colleague, Minster of State, Deputy Joe McHugh, following the exceptional rainfall of 22 August last to see at first-hand some of the very significant problems that a number of farmers faced as a result. I committed during my visit to supporting these farmers.

  In the immediate aftermath of the flood, I prioritised the availability of support by means of the Animal Welfare Helpline, which includes responding to urgent requirements for emergency feed provision. In addition, advice was provided to affected farmers in dealing with the immediate challenges that arose.

  The principal and most widespread impacts of the floods on farms in the Inishowen Peninsula centred on damage to land, fencing, fodder and livestock. To address these pressing issues in the most effective manner, I introduced a targeted measure of assistance. Support under this measure applies to losses of livestock, conserved fodder (hay or silage) and as a contribution toward the clean-up cost of agricultural lands, including repair to fences, damaged by debris washed up by the floods. The measure is subject to the provisions of EU de minimis State aid rules in the agriculture sector and only losses not covered by insurance are eligible for consideration.

  While it is not possible to address all of the problems the unprecedented rainfall caused on farms in Inishowen this measure is, in my view, a most comprehensive, timely and appropriate response to the main difficulties farmers there had to deal with.   The measure closed for applications on Friday, 29 September, and these will now be processed as quickly as possible.


Last Updated: 11/02/2020 15:46:49 First Page Previous Page Page of 95 Next Page Last Page