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 Header Item Land Reclassification (Continued)
 Header Item Other Questions
 Header Item Single Payment Scheme Payments
 Header Item Sugar Industry

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 786 No. 3

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Acting Chairman (Deputy Peter Mathews): Information on Peter Mathews Zoom on Peter Mathews There are only two minutes remaining for this question.

Deputy Luke 'Ming' Flanagan: Information on Luke 'Ming' Flanagan Zoom on Luke 'Ming' Flanagan I do not often come into the House and praise the previous Government. I hope I can do likewise for this Government. The former Minister of State, Deputy Michael Finneran, stated in this House: "The ... trust does not appear to be answerable to anybody, is not elected, refuses to discuss the business of the town demesne with any local representative group". That was possibly the first time that the former Minister of State chimed with the people of Castlerea.

In 2005, 1,300 people wrote to the then Minister with responsibility for agriculture asking her to revoke the trust. While she did not do so, she did not appoint any new trustees. This has led to the situation whereby there are now only five trustees remaining. If that number falls below five, it will not be possible to obtain a quorum for a meeting, at which point action will have to be taken. When I heard that an attempt had been made to appoint new trustees, I contacted the Minister whom I thank for taking the time to speak to me on what I know was a busy day for him.

More people have now written to the Minister. I understand some 1,300 people have done so and that there are a further 280 letters on the way to the Minister asking him not to appoint new members to the trust, to let it fall and, if needs be, to use his powers to revoke the trust. When the Minister's officials last visited the trust, they outlined the future of the cow park trust in view of the fact that the main objective of the original trust had now ceased. They also informed it of the 1,300 letters received by the Minister, which had been organised by then Councillor Flanagan, and said that as a public official the Minister could not ignore them.

Acting Chairman (Deputy Peter Mathews): Information on Peter Mathews Zoom on Peter Mathews Time for this question has elapsed.

Deputy Luke 'Ming' Flanagan: Information on Luke 'Ming' Flanagan Zoom on Luke 'Ming' Flanagan The purpose of the trust has ceased. As such, an opportunity to revoke it exists. It is hoped the Minister will do this. People in my town are united on their right to have a say in their own future and destiny. I hope the Minister will facilitate that.

Acting Chairman (Deputy Peter Mathews): Information on Peter Mathews Zoom on Peter Mathews We must move on.

Deputy Luke 'Ming' Flanagan: Information on Luke 'Ming' Flanagan Zoom on Luke 'Ming' Flanagan I thank the Minister for what he has done thus far.

Deputy Simon Coveney: Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney I am not sure everybody will get what they want but we are moving towards resolving the matter.

Deputy Luke 'Ming' Flanagan: Information on Luke 'Ming' Flanagan Zoom on Luke 'Ming' Flanagan All we want is openness and accountability.

Deputy Simon Coveney: Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney That is what is happening. I turned around a situation about which the Deputy was very unhappy.

Deputy Luke 'Ming' Flanagan: Information on Luke 'Ming' Flanagan Zoom on Luke 'Ming' Flanagan Yes.

Deputy Simon Coveney: Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney We have created time and space to try to find a solution.

Deputy Luke 'Ming' Flanagan: Information on Luke 'Ming' Flanagan Zoom on Luke 'Ming' Flanagan Thank you.

Other Questions

Single Payment Scheme Payments

 6. Deputy Michael P. Kitt Information on Michael Kitt Zoom on Michael Kitt asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney if he would favour a limit on the amount of money being paid to any one farmer under the single farm payment of the Common Agricultural Policy 2014-2020; the ceiling he thinks would be appropriate; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [55990/12]

Deputy Simon Coveney: Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney This question is in the name of Deputy Kitt, although I suspect it comes from Deputy Ó Cuív. It relates to whether we should be setting ceilings on future single farm payments. Before considering whether we should be setting caps on single farm payments, we first need to know that we have the capacity to do so. I have been supportive of the Commissioner's proposals to cap single farm payments. This would result in a reduction in payment on amounts in excess of €150,000. I would like to see the cap set lower than €150,000. I have stated that I would have no difficulty with a cap on payments of approximately €100,000. I recognise that we must find a common solution across the European Union which all countries can accept and live with. In my view, a number of the larger powerful countries, such as, for example, Germany and Britain, will not accept a cap on single farm payments because they have large landowners who are big commercial food producers who are receiving large payments and they want to see that continue.

Ireland is in a different situation. I need to ensure the flexibility countries are given in relation to the capping issue suits Ireland. Once a final deal is done and, if we have the capacity on a voluntary basis, country by country, to be able to set caps on single farm payments, we can then have this discussion and try to get this right. I do not have a problem with that in principle but we need to be careful not to push the cap too low because we have large commercial farmers we need to support. We will have an opportunity at a later stage, when we know the options, to be able to debate and discuss this issue and then make the most informed decision.

Deputy Seamus Kirk: Information on Seamus Kirk Zoom on Seamus Kirk Perhaps the Minister will indicate the overall budgetary position for CAP funding. There appears to be some doubt about what that figure will be. Will we be dealing with a reduced provision in 2013 or is it likely the budgetary situation will deteriorate with the passage of time? The envelope available for distribution to primary producers in Ireland will be determined by the budgetary position. There are various proposals floating around concerning the multi-annual financial framework for 2014 to 2020 - the long-term budget plan. The danger in this context is that provision for CAP funding may well be reduced and that the Irish envelope will suffer as a result. Perhaps the Minister would appraise the House of the up-to-date position.

Deputy Simon Coveney: Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney Two sets of negotiations are ongoing. The first concerns negotiations on the overall budget, the multi-annual financial framework, MFF, as referred to by the Deputy. We failed collectively last month as a European Union to get agreement on the MFF. This budget is for seven years and is worth more than €1 trillion. There was a wide variation in what countries wanted in terms of the levels of reduction or increases to that budget. For example, Britain wanted cuts of up to €200 billion. President Van Rompuy proposed cuts of approximately €80 billion. As the negotiations proceeded, the different budget lines within the budget were being debated in terms of which might take cuts and which might not. There are three big budget lines. CAP represents approximately 38 to 40% of the budget. Cohesion Funds represent one third of the budget and innovation and research and development also account for a large chunk of it.

Ireland has been trying to prevent a significant reduction in the overall MFF funding. If there are to be cuts, we will seek to protect the CAP budget within that. Some 85% of all EU money coming into Ireland comes through CAP. This amounts to approximately €1.6 billion per annum. We had some success in the negotiations. At one stage, it looked like there was going to be a cut to CAP of approximately 6% or 7% in terms of pillar 1 and about 11% in pillar 2. By the end of the discussions, this had been reduced to a 3% cut in pillar 1, which was progress. The difference was about €8 billion across the Union.

Acting Chairman (Deputy Peter Mathews): Information on Peter Mathews Zoom on Peter Mathews There is only one minute remaining for this question.

Deputy Simon Coveney: Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney We hope to conclude the MFF discussions during the Irish Presidency of the European Council at a Heads of State meeting to be held on 7 February. It is likely to be the next big summit meeting on the MFF. If we can get the budget agreed in February, it may be possible to get the CAP reform finalised before the end of the Irish Presidency. If we cannot get the MFF agreed in February, it will be difficult, in terms of the timescale, to do this.

Deputy Seamus Kirk: Information on Seamus Kirk Zoom on Seamus Kirk In terms of the eventual template or formula to be put in place for Ireland, a serious difficulty is arising in terms of the age profile of people involved in the agriculture industry in Ireland. As regards incentives and support under CAP to encourage young people to get involved and become participants in the future of the agriculture industry, how does the Minister see this unfolding?

Deputy Simon Coveney: Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney This issue is the subject of Question No. 9, at which point I will respond to those questions.

Acting Chairman (Deputy Peter Mathews): Information on Peter Mathews Zoom on Peter Mathews We now move on to Question No. 7.

Sugar Industry

 7. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív Information on Éamon Ó Cuív Zoom on Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney the progress made to date with discussions in relation to the re-establishment of a sugar industry here including the growing of sugar beet for sugar production; the steps he has taken to promote this industry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [55991/12]

Deputy Tom Barry: Information on Tom Barry Zoom on Tom Barry I have a problem with this question. It is an absolute disgrace that this question has been tabled. The question asks the Minister what steps he is taking to promote the sugar industry. I have news for the Deputies opposite: we do not have a sugar industry. It is an insult to people like me and others who grew beet and worked in the factories that Members opposite would table a question like this.


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