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 Header Item Farm Partnerships (Continued)
 Header Item Legal Services Regulation Bill 2011: From the Seanad (Resumed)

Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 900 No. 1

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(Speaker Continuing)

[Deputy Tom Hayes: Information on Tom Hayes Zoom on Tom Hayes] The ANC scheme replaces the old disadvantaged areas and less favoured areas schemes. The ANC scheme seeks to compensate farmers in certain designated areas for the challenges they face due to factors such as remoteness, difficult land type and poor quality. These farmers tend to have lower farm productivity and a higher unit cost of production than farmers in other areas.

Under EU regulations, all applications under the basic payment and ANC schemes must be subject to robust administrative checks prior to payment. The Department's system for processing payments must meet demanding EU and national audit requirements. Only valid applications under the basic payment and ANC schemes that fully comply with the requirements of the EU legislation are paid. Consequently, all applications under the schemes are subject to administrative checks. The main element of these administrative checks is an area assessment. This is achieved by using the detailed database of individual land parcels.

Regarding the basic payment scheme and greening payment, advance payments began issuing on 16 October 2015. This is the earliest that payments can commence for these schemes under the governing EU regulations. The level of the advance payment was set at 70% for 2015 rather than the normal 50%, a concession won by the Minister, Deputy Coveney. This increase was one of the key issues I raised with Commissioner Hogan in our discussions earlier this year. Ireland is among the earliest to pay the BPS in the European Union and, to date, of the approximately 122,000 eligible applicants, 117,380 farmers have received payments totalling €1.025 billion. Given these figures, my Department has been very effective in issuing payments early this year. The figures I have outlined show that over 96% of applicants under BPS and some 83% of applicants under the ANC scheme have received payment. Ireland is among the first member states to make payments.

More than 26,000 farmers were accepted into GLAS under the first tranche, and those whose contracts start from 1 October 2015 will receive a payment before the end of the year. Although there are a small number of partnerships where the entitlement position is not yet finalised, it does not affect a farmer applying to GLAS. Most of these farmers are multiple partnerships where two or more farmers have gone into partnership during or prior to the 2013 scheme year. These farmers submitted one single payment scheme application in 2013 which included all land farmed by all partners in that year.

During the course of the ongoing processing of the basic payment scheme and GLAS applications, we have recently been made aware of a small number of partnerships that have experienced some minor delay in applying for GLAS. This is as a result of a technical issue that occurred at the basic payment scheme application stage and we are in the process of resolving these cases. It is not expected that the issue will result in any ongoing delays or blockages for those partnerships wishing to enter GLAS. They will not hold it up.

On Monday, a separate technical issue regarding the mapping feature in the GLAS online system when processing GLAS applications came to light. It is being addressed as we speak and will be fixed in the next few hours. Technical issues such as this are a feature of any online system and normally can be fixed very quickly. I have received assurance from officials that these issues will be fixed before the day is out.

Deputy Martin Ferris: Information on Martin Ferris Zoom on Martin Ferris As the Minister of State said, a small number have been affected. The number I have is 800 applications. I assume they are 2014 applications as distinct from 2013. Taking away 300 leaves 500. This could have changed in the days since I received the information. It is encouraging that it will be resolved and that the technical issue regarding the mapping feature in GLAS will also be resolved today. If it is not resolved by the end of the year but takes some time into next year to resolve it, I hope no penalties or loss of entitlements will be imposed on applicants for this year. It is essential that they have the understanding and certainty that if it is not resolved between now and 31 December but runs over, it will not affect the top-up to which the applicants are entitled.

The other issue with the delay in processing is that it prevents young farmers from applying for GLAS, given that the computer system will not allow GLAS farmers to submit applications for unprocessed partnerships. Unprocessed partnerships that have not been processed cannot be submitted through the computer system. Maybe it is part of the technical hitch. If so, I welcome that it will be examined.

Deputy Tom Hayes: Information on Tom Hayes Zoom on Tom Hayes Some 95% of payments have been made and departmental officials are working very hard to try to deal with them. Under no circumstances will anybody receive a levy. People will not be put at an disadvantage because of something that is happening in the Department. The technical issues regarding the IT system just cropped up. The Deputy's final point is being addressed as we speak.

Legal Services Regulation Bill 2011: From the Seanad (Resumed)

  The Dáil went into Committee to resume consideration of Seanad amendment No. 1:

Section 1: In page 9, line 19, to delete “sections 85 and 87” and substitute “section 85”.

Deputy Joan Collins: Information on Joan Collins Zoom on Joan Collins I want to make a small contribution, although I was not part of the overall debate. The point has been made that the amendments do not cover the cost for ordinary people of accessing the courts, which is one of the key issues the troika instructed the Government to deal with. In 2013, I took a case against the Minister for Finance and was advised that a stenographer was required for the days we were sitting in court, and that the State would pay half the cost. The cost for the stenographer for four days was €11,194.80, approximately €3,000 per day. Such a cost is a major restriction on people taking cases they feel have a constitutional basis. We should examine it. I was asked to pay half the cost of the stenographer, €5,597, which is a lot of money to pay up front and restricts people who do not have money from challenging the courts.

A constituent of mine is raising an issue with the legislation. He found himself in a particular adverse situation through the courts. Earlier, Deputy Shatter mentioned citizens' trust and ability to find justice through the courts or, if they do not find justice in the courts, how it is dealt with. I support Deputy Mac Lochlainn's point on the need for a Bill to implement some sort of mediation and provide somebody who is professionally skilled and qualified to be able to assist people through adverse situations in which they find themselves. My constituent has raised the issue asking the Minister to take into account in the new Bill something he feels is not taken account of, namely, some abuse in the legal system. He feels ombudsmen and gardaí are not fit for the purpose of dealing with all the corruption that is part of the culture in the justice system, and he feels the public is aware of it. My constituent was a victim of insider dealing in the courts whereby a case was staged without being put on the day's list.

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