Farm Ireland

Monday 23 July 2018

Pressure mounts on Creed over ID cards for farmers

Minister Michael Creed. Photo: Arthur Carron
Minister Michael Creed. Photo: Arthur Carron
Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

Agriculture Minister Michael Creed is coming under massive pressure to clarify whether farmers will require controversial Public Services Cards (PSCs) to access EU payments.

Mr Creed's department has stonewalled questions about whether farmers will be forced to get the cards for future applications. It comes amid accusations that the Government's position on the matter is being "fudged".

Fianna Fáil agriculture spokesman Charlie McConalogue has now demanded Mr Creed clarify the situation.

"The department should not be fudging the position on this. Farmers deserve clarity in relation to what the proposals are," he said.

"What we need is less red-tape rather than more in terms of how payments are administered."

He pointed out farmers already have unique identifiers, such as herd numbers, for making EU Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) applications.

Independent TD Michael Fitzmaurice said it is hard to see why the PSC would be needed.

"If there's a double claim it's picked up straight away," he said about the current system.

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He said the introduction of the cards for claiming EU payments would be "unacceptable".

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The Irish Farmers' Association (IFA) confirmed it is also seeking clarity from the department on the matter.

The Department of Public Expenditure - which oversees the eGovernment strategy which includes the roll-out of PSCs - said it is a matter for Mr Creed's department if farmers will need the cards.

But for the second day in a row, Mr Creed's department failed to rule out the possibility that farmers will need a PSC to apply for EU funding.

Instead, when asked by the Irish Independent, it repeated the line that "no decision" had been taken to change the existing application process.

Currently, 114,000 farmers make online applications under the BPS through the website. EU rules mean all applications will have to be made online from next year.

Access to the services on the website is to be enabled via the separate MyGovID website by September 2018.

Users of MyGovID are already required to have a PSC to set up a verified account.

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