Alliance criticises European funding dispute

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Monday, January 20th, 2014
Alliance South Down spokesperson Councillor Patrick Clarke has criticised the dispute between Executive Ministers over EU agricultural funding. The Agriculture Minister had sought to transfer 7% of Common Agricultural Policy funding from pillar I for direct payments to farmers, to pillar II that funded the rural development programme. However, the Finance Minister took the issue to the High Court, claiming that the Executive should have made the decision. The Agriculture Minister lost the case and was not able to gain approval before the deadline on the 31st December. Councillor Clarke was speaking after this issue was brought up in the Assembly. He stated, “Rural communities and the environment will lose out as a result of this fight between Executive Ministers. I am concerned that these two Ministers could not sort out this problem within the Executive, rather than take part in a very public spat. “It is clear that the DUP knew about the intention to transfer some of this funding before the Minister announced her decision, so I am disappointed that they waited until the very end to voice their opposition. This has resulted in the Agriculture Minister not being able to allocate any money for the rural development programme. Clarke added, “However, I was pleased that the Agriculture Minister confirmed that she will be taking forward several environmental projects to make up for the failure to transfer funding for the rural development programme.”
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