HEN HARRIER, THE FAIR DEAL SCHEME AND RURAL CRIME DOMINATE DEBATE AT ICSA REGIONAL RURAL DEVELOPMENT MEETING IN TEMPLEGLANTINE

7 MARCH 2017

ICSA rural development chairman Seamus Sherlock has called for an upfront and immediate payment to be made to farmers on designated Hen Harrier lands while the logistics are being put in place for future locally led schemes. “Farmers have waited long enough to be compensated, it is all well and good talking about new schemes but these will take time and patience is running out”, he said.

Mr Sherlock was speaking at an ICSA Regional Rural Development meeting held in Templeglantine, Co Limerick on Thursday (2 Feb) where the issue dominated discussion. “Local farmers are very aggrieved and feel completely abandoned at this stage. ICSA will be available to assist with the implementation of new schemes but our farmers must be assisted with an immediate payment to help ease the burden that designation has imposed upon their ability to make an income from their lands.”

Mr Sherlock said another issue of contention on the night was the Fair Deal scheme “Not only is the Fair Deal a minefield in itself, farmers also know that the scheme is skewed against them. The 7.5% assessment of assets on an annual basis is quite severe but the key problem is that this is capped at 22.5% for principal residential assets but there is no cap for farmland.”

“As there are very few farms generating enough income to build a fund to take care of nursing home costs over a prolonged period, likely scenarios mean the farm may have to be sold to pay the Fair Deal bill. This is going beyond the bounds of what is reasonable and as is causing a lot of worry and distress amongst farming families and needs to be addressed.”

The meeting also heard from Justin McCarthy, Crime Prevention Officer for Limerick who outlined strategies to make farmyards more secure. The meeting also heard from several farmers who had been victims of farm crime in recent times and there was widespread anger that criminals with multiple convictions were being treated too leniently by the courts.

Also present at the meeting was Danny Healy Rae TD and ICSA general secretary Eddie Punch who gave a talk on the impact of Brexit on the outlook for the farming sector and he also outlined the issues that would be central to the CAP reform negotiations.

ENDS