Written Answers. - Grant Payments.

110.

asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food if discretion is allowed to inspectors from his Department to decide the eligibility of an applicant for headage grants within certain townlands when such an entire townland has been designated as disadvantaged; and if an inspector is empowered to decide himself those who are eligible for grants and those who are not eligible.

I presume that this question refers to mountain sheep areas in certain townlands in Leinster and Munster which are designated as disadvantaged for sheep headage purposes. In these areas, lowland sheep do not qualify and only mountain ewes and hogget ewes of specified breeds and types substantially maintained on mountain grazing are eligible for sheep headage payments.

When carrying out inspections each year my Department's inspecting officers must verify that the sheep presented by applicants in these townlands are mountain sheep substantially maintained on mountain sheep grazing lands. As only part of some of these townlands comprises mountain sheep grazing lands, it is inevitable that some applicants cannot meet these requirements and therefore are ineligible for sheep headage payments.