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Shifting blame onto farmers for audit failings won't wash

29 October 2008

Jim Allister MEP has criticised Agriculture Minister Michelle Gildernew for attempting to shift the blame of DARD’s non-compliance with EU audit guidelines onto farmers.

The MEP said,
“Farmers will find the words of Michelle Gildernew to be completely hollow, when she suggests that £28.5 million could be lost from the local DARD budget because of her Department ‘being too generous or lenient in the administration of EU finances.’ Observing the Department’s behaviour in recent times, in its decision to appeal the 5% heifer court ruling, and in its ‘gold plating’ stance on duplicate fields as just two examples, DARD’s hierarchy has little sympathy for farmers.”

“Frankly, I am disgusted at the Minister’s attempt to lay the blame for what is clearly her Department’s failure to comply with EU audit procedures, as being somehow the fault of farmers. Of course, such sentiments are all too familiar within Dundonald House.”

“On top of the recent Crossnacreevy fiasco, this latest development is likely to add to the enormous pressure on the agricultural budget, with DARD mismanagement solely to blame.”


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Agriculture and Environment