Tribesmen falling foul of Department inspectors

Calls have been made for a full review of the Department’s inspection process.
Calls have been made for a full review of the Department’s inspection process.
Michael Fitzmaurice,Independent deputy for Roscommon-East Galway. Pic Tom Burke
Claire Fox

Claire Fox

Galway's hurlers swept all before them in the spring and summer, but their farmers are being hammered by the Department of Agriculture this autumn, local TD Michael Fitzmaurice has claimed.

Deputy Fitzmaurice said a quarter of Galway's farmers who were inspected by Department officials this year had received penalties of some description.

The introduction of a 'yellow card' system which allowed farmers a specified time-frame in which to iron out difficulties that are identified during inspections should now be considered as a matter of urgency, the Independent TD maintained.

"Reports over the past week have emerged that one in four farmers in Co Galway received a penalty after being inspected by the Department of Agriculture," Deputy Fitzmaurice said.

"When we were in the talks for the formation of a Government last year, it was agreed that there needed to be some kind of a yellow card system introduced to give a farmers three weeks or a month to get things in order after an inspection."

The Roscommon-Galway TD added that such a system was especially needed in the west of Ireland because the direct payments were small, so penalties had a disproportionate impact.

"It is alarming to see that 25pc of farmers are getting penalties when the figures for other parts of the country are not nearly as high," Deputy Fitzmaurice said.

High levels of penalties in North Tipperary provoked protests from farmers earlier this year. One farmers' representative blamed the problems on "over-zealous inspectors" and the rules behind the inspections which he said are inflexible and too severe.

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It is understood that close to 40pc of penalties nationally involve Nitrates Directive infringements.

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