Sinn Féin delegation meets Jeff Rooker
Sinn Féin South Down MLA Caitríona Ruane led a delegation to meet direct rule Agriculture and Rural Development Minster Jeff Rooker today, Friday 24th June, at Dundonald House.
The issues raised included the beef ban and the imminent FVO report, progress on extending the grant aid to meet the nitrates directive to 60%, the implementation of CAP and problems with the Single Farm Payment, the new Rural Development model and the large number of outstanding all-Ireland issues still to be implemented.
Speaking after the meeting Ms Ruane said:
"Sinn Féin have consistently argued that the grant aid available for meeting the EU directives on Nitrates should be moved to 60% from the current 40% level. I welcome the fact that the department has applied to the EU Commission for approval to increase grant aid for the Farm Nutrient Management Scheme to 60%.
"In the negotiations before Christmas Sinn Féin secured the support of Tony Blair for early progress on OTM Rule change and lifting the Beef Export Ban. This appears to be the case. However, Sinn Féin continue to maintain that any problems with the case for British progress should not hinder early progress on the case for farmers in this part of Ireland where the FVO reports are more favourable.
"Sinn Féin also urged Jeff Rooker to make progress on implementing the outstanding all-Ireland issues, particularly on animal health and I believe that Mr Rooker has now accepted the logic of this position."
Sinn Féin also put forward the case for the strengthening of the Leader model in the development of Rural Development and Rural Regeneration policy and the need for cross departmental responsibility in the delivery of services and support for rural communities.
Sinn Féin also presented Jeff Rooker with a paper on the way forward for the Fishing industry that will be launched in due course. ENDS