Coveney defends his record on basic payments delivery
Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney has challenged farmers to show him a country that sent basic payments out faster than Ireland did last year.
Mr Coveney admitted there had been a "communications" problem surrounding delays in delivering the annual funding to some farmers, particularly national reserve and young farmer top-ups and cases involving land transfers.
Mr Coveney said a new system had been introduced for phone queries, but this had not worked as planned and would be changed for next year.
"I would challenge anybody to show me a country that has got payments out faster than Ireland," he said, adding it had been an especially complex process in 2015 with the number of new schemes in place.
"If you look at our closest neighbour only about 50pc of farmers have got a basic payment and there was no 70pc advanced payment for them at all."
The minister said the Department had now paid out on 97-98pc of basic payments and over 60pc of the new payments to young farmers. An estimated 2,500 farmers are still awaiting payments.
Around 5,500 out of 9,200 applicants for the young farmers and national reserve scheme have been paid so far, with 700 rejected. In total, some 122,291 farmers have been paid €1.1m in basic payments.