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McHugh rounds on UFU and Unionists over criticism of Farm Minister

14 June, 2007

Sinn Féin Agriculture Spokesperson, Fermanagh South Tyrone MLA Gerry McHugh has attacked the Ulster Farmers Union and a number of Unionists who criticised the Sinn Fein Agriculture Minster Michelle Gildernew for finding the £89 million need to fund the Farm Nutrients Scheme.

Mr McHugh said:

"The response of the UFU and a number of unionist politicians to the announcement that the Agriculture Minister, Michelle Gildernew, had found a way to finance the Farm Nutrient Scheme was a disgrace.

"Finding the money for this scheme was a top priority for farmers in order to secure the financial viability of their farms and there was the very real threat that unless work was completed by the end of 2008 that we would face massive fines from Europe.

"The fact is that the Executive that included a DUP Finance Minister and the leader of the UUP would not or could not find the £89 million needed to fund the scheme. The fact is that the Minster came up with a solution; and the fact is that her approach was agreed by the leaderships of both the DUP and UUP yet politicians from both parties attacked Michelle.

"Sinn Féin will challenge and criticise all Ministers in the Executive no matter what party they are from when it is deserved.

"Over the last couple of weeks we have heard Peter Robinson challenge parties over the issue of finances.

"It is time that people like Willie McCrea removed their unionist tinted glasses and woke up to the harsh realities of decision making." ENDS

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