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Noel Coonan Raises Delay with Templemore Flood Relief Scheme



Tipperary TD Noel Coonan received confirmation in Dáil Eireann on Wednesday that the Templemore Flood Relief Scheme remains a priority, despite delays with commencement of the scheme, and funding has been ringfenced in the OPW’s Budget for works associated with the project.

Deputy Coonan raised the issue with Minister of State Simon Harris who has special responsibility for the Office of Public Works during Topical Issues on Wednesday; and expressed ongoing concerns felt by the people of Templemore about the matter.

“I pressed Minister Harris on the issue which is of continuing concern in Templemore. We are heading into the Winter months which means heavy rain and possible flooding. It’s unacceptable that areas such as The Mall, Blackcastle Road and Priory Demense may again flood and suffering will continue for residents,” said Deputy Coonan.


Speaking in the Dáil, Deputy Coonan said: “There is not just the damage to property, inconvenience and the horror the residents experience at the time but the subsequent problems, such as lack of insurance and the real fear that it will happen again. We were told work would commence in mid-August 2014. That has not happened and I seek a reason for that from you Minister of State. Will the Minister of State outline the reasons for the delay and provide a clear commitment on his behalf and on behalf of the OPW that the scheme will go ahead sooner rather than later?”

In response, Minister Harris said: “I thank Deputy Coonan for raising the Templemore flood relief scheme today and on a number of occasions during the two and a half months I have been in office. I accept it is a very important issue to him and his constituents. I had an opportunity to meet the Deputy and a number of residents in Templemore prior to my appointment to my current post and I know the importance of the issue for the people of Templemore. Before I outline the detailed response to the question, I wish to make clear that as Minister of State with responsibility for the OPW, I am fully committed, as is the OPW, to the delivery of the Templemore flood relief scheme. The funding is in place and it is a priority project which will be delivered.”

“An issue arose in relation to a combined sewage and storm water overflow pipe in the Church Road area of Templemore which is in the path of the proposed bypass. The OPW is in discussions with Irish Water regarding works necessary to circumvent the pipe. It is expected that this matter will be resolved satisfactorily and that it will not delay progression of the scheme. The next step is that the amended proposals will be put on formal public exhibition, in accordance with the Arterial Drainage Act 1945. That will take place early in 2015,” said Minister Harris.

Deputy Coonan concluded saying: “The onus is on Ministers and OPW officials not to make promises they cannot keep. I hope the OPW will commit to this and see the project through.”


IFA Raises Payment Concerns with Dept at Charter of Rights Meeting



Speaking at a Charter of Rights meeting with the Department of Agriculture this week, the IFA Deputy President Brian Rushe said it’s absolutely essential that the maximum number of applicants in tranche 19 of TAMS are approved as soon as possible to provide certainty to farmers who are planning to carry out work.

IFA Rural Development Chairman Michael Biggins welcomed confirmation that payment of the ANC balancing payment will commence next week.

He stressed the importance of paying the remaining farmers as soon as they meet their stocking density requirements, which the Dept confirmed happens on a weekly basis.  Farmers will be paid as soon as they meet the required stocking density, which in some cases will run to the end of the year.

Michael Biggins also called on the Dept to pay the ANC to farmers who omitted in error to tick the ANC box on their BPS application this year.  “A system where a farmer has to ‘opt out’ rather the ‘opt in’ would ensure there are fewer errors when submitting applications,” he said.

IFA Deputy President Brian Rushe welcomed the payment of the BPS balancing payment which commenced this week.  “The Dept also confirmed the issue around transfer of entitlement, which held up payments of around 1,000 farmers, has been resolved for most at this stage and the remaining ones will be resolved in the next week,” he said.

IFA National Livestock Chairman Brendan Golden has welcomed DAFM facilitation of farmers who made ‘Draft applications’ to BEEP-S scheme and who had operated under the impression they were participating in the scheme by carrying out measures on their farms. IFA had raised this issue directly with the Department of Agriculture and the acceptance of these farmers into the scheme is the right decision.

Regarding the Beef Finishers Payment, Brendan Golden again called for cattle exported for slaughter in the reference period to be paid on from the surplus in the Beef Finishers Payment fund.

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IFA Launches Guide to Personal Insolvency Arrangements



IFA National Farm Business Chair Rose Mary McDonagh and Martin Stapleton, Chairman of the IFA Debt Support Service, have launched a Guide to Personal Insolvency Arrangements (PIA).

IFA Debt Support Service was established following the last recession to provide specific support to farmers in arrears.

The confidential service is comprised of an experienced team of IFA volunteers working with professional support to provide assistance to IFA members in financial difficulty.

Martin Stapleton said IFA has worked with over 500 farmers over the last few years. While the numbers in difficulty are reducing, recent weeks have seen an increase in activity from vulture funds since the COVID-19 Payment Breaks came to an end.

“This guide is available on IFA’s website and will serve as a useful resource for farmers in arrears seeking to protect their family home and farm land,” he said.

A Personal Insolvency Arrangement (PIA) is a debt resolution mechanism outlined in the Personal Insolvency Act, which acts as an insolvency solution for people with unsecured and secured debt.

Rose Mary McDonagh added that a PIA can provide a debtor with protection from their creditors and on completion, a debtor will return to solvency.

At present, the Oireachtas is considering one of two Bills which will reform the area of personal insolvency and amend the current eligibility requirements for a PIA. Rose Mary McDonagh said the definition of relevant debt should be expanded to include debt prior to 2015, and debt secured in or over a debtor’s income reliant/core asset.

The IFA Debt Support Service can be contacted, in confidence, at 1890 924 853.

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EU Must Complete an Impact Assessment of Green Strategies



Speaking after a meeting of European Farm Leaders (COPA) with EU Executive Vice President Frans Timmermans yesterday, IFA President Tim Cullinan said that the EU must complete a full impact assessment of the EU Farm to Fork and Biodiversity strategies.

“I told the Commissioner a full impact assessment is needed to determine how much implementing these strategies will cost,” he said.

“Frans Timmermans has threatened to withdraw the Commission’s own CAP proposal if it doesn’t take more account of the Farm to Fork and Biodiversity strategies. Yet he has no idea how much these strategies will cost or who will pay for them,” he said.

“People are quoting all these targets without any consideration for their impact on output or on production costs of farmers. Farmers cannot be left to carry the can on this,” he said.

“We also need Teagasc to do an assessment of the impact in Ireland. We are currently deep in discussions on the Agrifood 2030 strategy, but again we have a data vacuum,” he said.

“It’s incredible that the Economic Research Service of the US Department of Agriculture has examined the impact of ‘Farm to Fork’ Strategy on farm incomes, output and trade and neither the EU nor Ireland has,” he said.

“The US report predicts that as a result of the strategy, farm incomes would be reduced by 16%. This is as a consequence of the expected loss of production by 12% across the EU which would not be offset by the 17% increase in market prices.”

“If these measures were implemented, the report predicts a loss in output at an EU level which would cause exports to fall by 20% and imports would increase by 2%. The knock-on effect of these changes in trade is predicted to increase the cost of food by €132 per person in the EU.”

“If these figures are correct, they would be devastating for European farmers. Yet the EU Commission doesn’t know, or won’t tell us, what their assessment of the impact will be,” he said.

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