Dáil debates

Thursday, 14 May 2015

Ceisteanna - Questions - Priority Questions

Land Parcel Identification System

10:00 am

Photo of Simon CoveneySimon Coveney (Cork South Central, Fine Gael) | Oireachtas source

I thank farming organisations and the Opposition spokesperson for being reasonable on this issue. This is an issue we cannot ignore. If one gets a €181 million proposed fine from the Commission, one cannot simply put one's head in the sand and say that we refuse to pay.

We have gone through a tortuous process of assessing 900,000 land parcels across Ireland to ascertain what the appropriate level of reimbursement to the Commission should be. I refer to what was the level of overpayment over a five-year period. The issue is not so much whether that was by mistake or whether it was deliberate. The Commission looks at this from an audit perspective and asks what public money was spent that should not have been spent because it did not quality, how much should it get back and what fines should be imposed to go with that.

Our calculations are that this figure should be approximately €50 million. We will have to look at how that gets paid. Some of it will be paid back by farmers and some may well be paid by the Department over a period of time. We fist need to conclude with the Commission what is the figure. The Commission strongly disagrees with that figure because otherwise it would not be asking for €181 million. We have a credible case here and we have worked hard to make it. I would be hopeful that we will reach a conclusion on it in the next month to six weeks. That is a guesstimate but I would be hopeful that it would be done within that timeframe.


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