David Ford, Alliance Spokesman on Agriculture and Rural Development, has welcomed the announcement by Ms Brid Rogers that DARD will start consultation on a grant appeals mechanism ‘ within weeks’
David Ford said :
” Back in December, I asked the Minister about an appeals scheme and she said that her Department was working on a draft.
Today, in a reply to a further question by my colleague Eileen Bell, the Minister said that consultation was due to start within weeks and that she hoped to have a scheme in place by the end of the year.
Many farmers in Northern Ireland believe that they are in danger of losing quite substantial grants if they make very minor mistakes in paperwork. It is a clear requirement under Human Rights legislation that there should be an appeals mechanism with an independent element.
As Eileen Bell reminded the Minister, Scotland already has an Ombudsman scheme in place and Wales is moving ahead with consultation.
I would be very concerned if there was not speedy movement in Northern Ireland and I welcome the statement by Mrs Rogers.”