Three Fine Gael ministers receive EU farm payments
Three Fine Gael ministers receive EU-funded farming grants, the Sunday Independent can reveal.
The ministers are among seven TDs who received Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) payments in 2016, according to records published by the Department of Agriculture.
The farming grants form the largest part of the EU's budget and are paid to farmers throughout the union.
The grants are aimed at supporting the agriculture sector through direct payments to farmers and investment in rural supports and initiatives.
All farmers, including TDs and ministers, are entitled to apply for the grants to subsidise their farming incomes. Most farms would be unsustainable without CAP payments.
Minister of State for Financial Services and Insurance Michael D'Arcy received €28,578, according to the Department. Mr D'Arcy, a Wexford TD, owns more than 200 acres of farmland and woodland in Gorey. The minister's dairy farm has been in his family for generations.
Similarly, Minister of State for Food, Forestry and Horticulture Andrew Doyle is a fifth generation farmer. Mr Doyle owns 158 acres of land in Roundwood, Co Wicklow, where he rears suckler cows and sheep. Records show he received a grant totalling €13,718.
Clare-based Minister of State Pat Breen confirmed he received a CAP payment of €13,718 in 2016. Fine Gael TD for Carlow-Kilkenny Pat Deering received a €19,219 farming payment. Mr Deering runs his family's dairy farm in Carlow.
In the same constituency, Fianna Fail TDs Bobby Aylward received a €16,834 payment for his farm. Mr Aylward owns a 105-acre farm in his home town of Mullinavat. He actively campaigns on behalf of the farming community in Leinster House.
His Fianna Fail colleague, Declan Breathnach owns a 90-acre farm in Dundalk. Mr Breathnach, a Louth TD, received a €4,832 CAP payment. Independent TD for Cork South West Michael Collins said the most recent grant he received totalled around €10,000. Mr Collins said he employs staff to run his farm while he is in Dublin on Dail business.
He said the farm, which struggles to turn a profit, has been in his family for generations and he hopes to pass it on to his children when he retires from farming and politics.