22 March 2017
By Tom Collins
Liadh na Riada MEPSinn Féin MEP Liadh Ní Riada has urged the Department of Agriculture to continue to accept paper applications for CAP payments such as TAMS, SFP and BPS as well as online ones.
The Ireland South MEP made the request after it emerged that such applications can now only be made online.
“While I would welcome any system that makes getting money from Europe into the hands of Irish farmers easier and more efficient the Government is putting the cart well before the horse here by insisting on online only applications,” she said.
“There are still huge swathes of rural Ireland with no access to broadband meaning such a move is only putting another obstacle in the way of those farmers getting those payments. This seems to be a case of a blinkered department in Dublin thinking that the rest of the country has the same facilities as Dublin.
“I would also remind the Department that we have more farmers in this country over the age of 70 than under the age of 35. For many of them online applications are simply not going to be an option.
“The move towards a faster, smoother online system is one that the government needs to make but it should be made in conjunction with those people who do not have access to these facilities, not at their expense.
“The government cannot fail to provide rural broadband and then punish those who do not have rural broadband. Paper applications must continue to be accepted alongside online ones.”