Dáil Éireann - Volume 526 - 15 November, 2000

Written Answers. - Farm Modernisation Scheme.

177. Mr. Boylan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Rural Development if his attention has been drawn to the serious situation of a group of farmers principally in County Cavan who have been denied grants for the past ten years under the farm modernisation scheme through the failure of his Department and the Chief State Solicitor's Office to deal with this matter; if he will take a personal interest in these cases and have payment made immediately; if he will confirm that interest on the outstanding grants from the date due will be paid; and his views on whether this situation is intolerable and grossly unfair to the families involved. [25992/00]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and Rural Development (Mr. Walsh): Legal proceedings on behalf of 68 applicants under the farm modernisation scheme were initiated in the Circuit Court in 1989 for grant aid which they claimed they had been denied because of the partial suspension of the scheme in 1983. Following out of court settlements in the High Court of seven other similar cases in November 1996, notice to proceed issued in relation to the 68 cases. After examination of these cases the Department was advised that settlement could be justified in a number of the cases where the farm plans were approved prior to the date of suspension of the scheme. Strictly without prejudice, the solicitors for the farmers' side were so informed by the Chief State Solicitor in November 1997.

Full details of the proposed settlements, which provide for interest, to the farmers concerned were given to the farmers' solicitors in September 1999. Subsequently there has been some correspondence between the Chief State Solicitor and the farmers' solicitors, the last being a letter from the Chief State Solicitor to the farmers' solicitors on 4 October 2000. The Chief State Solicitor is awaiting a response to this letter, along with confirmation of acceptance of settlements.