EU Funding

Questions (202, 203)

Pearse Doherty

Question:

202. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the designated agency or person to be contacted by citizens seeking information regarding the EU's Maritime and Fisheries Fund 2014-20. [15573/14]

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Pearse Doherty

Question:

203. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if he will set out Ireland's allocation from the Rural Development Fund 2014-2020 under the EU's Maritime and Fisheries Fund 2014-20. [15574/14]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 202 and 203 together.

The Rural Development Fund is concerned with the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development and not the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund. While the proposed Regulation establishing the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) is progressing towards adoption, it is not expected to be adopted in law by the EU institutions until probably June this year. Distribution of the EMFF funds amongst Member States has not yet been determined by the EU Commission and pending that, Ireland has been allocated no specific funding under the EMFF at this point.

My Department is working to prepare a new 7-year Operational Programme for the seafood sector under the EMFF. Work on that Programme is dependent on the progress of the proposed Regulation and the allocation of funds by the Commission, so given the likely adoption date of June, the Programme is likely to be finalised towards the end of the year. I am working closely with all stakeholders in developing the Programme. To date, a public consultation has been undertaken on a SWOT analysis of the seafood industry and on future investment priorities. As work progresses on development of the Programme, details will be made available on my Department's website.

Departmental Offices

Questions (204)

John Browne

Question:

204. Deputy John Browne asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if he will arrange to have adequate administrative staff available to deal with farmers' queries at all times at the DVO office in Enniscorthy town, County Wexford; the reason this has not been the case in recent months; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15613/14]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

My Department continues to maintain a public office in Enniscorthy. While the administrative functions are being transferred from that office to the Castlebar office, the Department's vets, inspectors and technical officers remain in place to service our clients across all of the schemes that are provided from these offices. I am satisfied that frontline services can be fully maintained with current staffing levels and that public access for all of the Department's stakeholders will continue to be available in the Enniscorthy office.

The transfer of these functions arises from an extensive review of the local office structure which was carried out by the Department over the last number of years. This review concluded that, arising from the investment in technology and the substantial reduction in disease levels in recent years, significant efficiencies would accrue from the centralisation of administrative functions in two centres, thereby giving rise to significant scope for redeployment of administrative staff from existing local offices. The process of centralising the administrative functions commenced in 2012 and is on-going.

In line with Government policy, the Department has actively sought redeployment opportunities for administrative staff in local offices. Redeployed staff have already been transferred from the local offices in Limerick, Tipperary, Waterford and Tullamore as well as Enniscorthy to other Departments and agencies such as Revenue Commissioners, Department of Justice and the Shared services areas of the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform in order to enable those bodies to provide important services such as property tax, Garda Vetting etc.

Installation Aid Scheme Eligibility

Questions (205)

Martin Heydon

Question:

205. Deputy Martin Heydon asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the consideration that is being given to farmers who are below the age of 40, are not considered new entrants due to the time at which they took over their holdings and who narrowly missed out on installation aid in the past; if some measures could be extended to this small group of farmers who missed out on the supports that most new entrants have received or will receive; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15634/14]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

The consultation paper prepared by my Department in relation to the proposed measures for inclusion in Ireland's Rural Development programme for 2014-2020 includes a commitment to the introduction of an enhanced grant scheme for young farmers who invest in farm infrastructure with a specific grant rate of 60 per cent compared to the standard grant rate of 40 per cent which will be generally available under other on-farm investment schemes.

Within the limits of the EU provisions governing the new Rural Development Programme, I will be endeavouring to ensure that as many young farmers as possible can avail of the enhanced grant scheme when the national measures are introduced following receipt of the required EU Commission approval for the Programme. Where young farmers do not meet the conditions laid down in the governing EU provisions for the enhanced grant scheme, they will be eligible to apply for grants at a standard rate under other on-farm investment schemes which are made available under the new Programme.

Land Parcel Identification System

Questions (206)

Michael Ring

Question:

206. Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine when a decision will be made on a land parcel identification system, LPIS, overpayment appeal in respect of a person (details supplied) in view of the fact that the herd owner requested a review on 17 January last; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15660/14]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

A review of the land parcels declared by the person named under the Single Payment Scheme revealed that several of the land parcels declared by the person named contained ineligible features. As the person named applied for a review of my Department's decision, a visit by a Department official to verify the position is necessary to resolve the matter. This verification visit will be conducted shortly and the applicant will be informed of the outcome of the visit as soon as is possible. In the event that the person named is dissatisfied with the outcome of this verification check, the decision can be appealed to the independently-chaired LPIS Appeals Committee.

Harbours and Piers Funding

Questions (207)

Michael McCarthy

Question:

207. Deputy Michael McCarthy asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if his Department will provide funding to upgrade a pier (details supplied) in County Cork; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15666/14]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

The piers on Sherkin Island are owned by Cork County Council and responsibility for their repair and maintenance rests with the Local Authority in the first instance. Under the Fishery Harbour and Coastal Infrastructure Development Programme my Department has, in previous years, provided funding for the development and repair of Local Authority owned harbours, piers and slipways subject to the availability of exchequer funding. Funding for this programme is allocated on an annual basis.

My Department will shortly be requesting all Coastal Local Authorities to submit applications, in order of priority, for funding under the 2014 Fishery Harbour and Coastal Infrastructure Development Programme. Any application submitted by Cork County Council for funding in respect of a pier on Sherkin Island under the Capital Programme will be given consideration in the context of available exchequer funding and overall national priorities.

Wildlife Conservation

Questions (208)

Brendan Griffin

Question:

208. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if he has considered concerns expressed by fishermen regarding the seal population; his views on whether this is a problem and, if so, the action he will take to resolve it; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15675/14]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

I am aware of fishermen's concerns regarding the seal populations in and around our coasts. With regard to the interaction between seal populations and the conservation of fish stocks, seals eat a wide array of fish and invertebrates. I am informed that their diet appears to vary considerably depending on location, time of year and the abundance of available prey. Seals are a protected species under the Wildlife (Amendment) Act 1976-2005. Insofar as management of the national seal population is concerned, this is a matter for the Minister for the Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht under the Wildlife Acts, which are administered by the National Parks and Wildlife Service.