. Flynn's wife got EUR 87,000 in grants; Former EU commissioner Pádraig Flynn's wife, Dorothy, has been paid over €87,000 in grants for planting trees on land whose purchase was investigated by the planning tribunal.
Some of the money Ms Flynn used to buy the land near Killala, Co Mayo, came from the £50,000 cheque property developer Tom Gilmartin gave to her husband in 1989, the tribunal has already established.
Now it has emerged that Ms Flynn got €65,378 in afforestation grants in 1998 and €21,793 in 2003. She will continue to receive grants on the land, which cost her only €47,700 to buy, until 2017.
It has also emerged that Ms Flynn did not own the land at the time the original application for a forestry grant was made by the previous owner in February 1997.
Ms Flynn bought the land in December 1997 and approval to plant, based on the original application, was given in March 1998.
At the time, according to Minister for Agriculture Mary Coughlan, grant applicants did not have to submit title documents before grants were paid.?
Instead, this information was collected before payment of the premium.
In this case, title documents were submitted to the department's forestry service in March 2000 and these showed clearly that Ms Flynn was the registered owner of the land before the grant was awarded, Ms Coughlan told
(Reply to Green TD Trevor Sargent in a recent written parliamentary answer.)
Ms Flynn used the same planting "prescription" drawn up by a firm for the application by the previous owner. According to Ms Coughlan, this was the "only instance" where other records were used in connection with a second application.( stroke politics.!)
The tribunal heard last year that Ms Flynn was probably the person who negotiated Mr Gilmartin's cheque at the Flynns' AIB branch in Castlebar in June 1989. The money was shifted to bogus non-resident accounts and later the Flynns' daughter, Beverley, invested half of it on behalf of her parents in overseas funds.
The money was later brought back to accounts in Ireland, which were used to buy the land at Coolanass in Ms Dorothy Flynn's name for £37,553. Under the terms of the EU grant scheme, applicants had to show they earned at least 25 per cent of their income from farming. Ms Flynn qualified on the basis she earned €1,100 a year from haymaking on the land, and had no other income. Her total grant entitlement over 20 years is €178,000. Ms Flynn told the tribunal she had never seen the farm, nor set foot on it. She never farmed it in any meaningful way and did not know who had found it to buy for her. The Flynns deny the Gilmartin money was used to buy the land.This denial was important.The C.A.B. are authorized to confiscate the proceeds of corruption.So far ,they have not moved on the Flynn purchase..and probably never will,!
"Little if none" of the money was used for this purpose", Mr Flynn told the tribunal.
on to other Forestry scandal brewing...or well brewed !
Unanswered questions in the Dail:
E.E.U.criticisms of Dept.Of Agriculture forestry grants scheme include:
1 The lack of a clear, objective and verifiable definition of enclosed and
2 The lack of sufficient independent justification for loss of income
3 Failure to justify the level of reimbursement;
• "Self assessment" procedures that mean appropriate independent checks
on planting are lacking;
•4 Inadequate demonstration of control of previous agricultural use of the
5 Investments into forestry as farmers by those who had not farmed the land
6• Little competition between contractors;
7 Failure to separate the duties of forest inspectors;
• Work carried out prior to approval;
Green Party Concerns:
615. Mr. Sargent asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food the measures taken by her Department or which she intends to take in regard to the calling into question in a report of the European Court of Auditors of Ireland's failure to give social and environmental considerations equal weight to economic consideration and so implement sustainable forestry.
616. Mr. Sargent asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food the measures taken by her Department or which she intends to take to ensure that the level of premium aid given to forestry applicants reflects the true loss of income from the land involved and not an inflated value as suggested by the European Court of
Auditors report on Ireland. [10267/05]
617. Mr. Sargent asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food the measures taken by her Department or which she intends to take to ensure that the level of premia payable to farmers for loss of income is paid only to those who have genuinely farmed the land previous to their application and are not, in fact, investors for whom there is no justification for obtaining the higher compensation, as noted by the European Court of Auditors report on Ireland. [10268/05]
618. Mr. Sargent asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food the failures in checks and assessments of forestry funding in the European Court of Auditors report on Ireland and the measures she has taken or intends to take to rectify the matter. [10269/05]
619. Mr. Sargent asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food the measures she has taken or intends to undertake to ensure there is a separation of duties of forest inspectors to eliminate the fact that forestry projects are approved and checked by the same person as stated in the European Court of Auditors report.
620. Mr. Sargent asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food if she will provide him with the correspondence between the Irish authorities and the European Court of Auditors during the discussions about the forestry audit report on Ireland. [10271/05]
Mary Coughlan refused to clarify, or answer properly, any of these queries.
EU farm money lands on big farming business.
When Britain's new freedom of information law took effect on Jan. 1, a small group of activists, from groups like Oxfam, Friends of the Earth and a couple of newspapers submitted a question they had long wanted to ask: Who gets what subsidies from the European Union's common agricultural policy?
At first, the government in London refused to say, swayed in part by the throaty opposition of the Country Land and Business Association. But on March 22, it capitulated and mailed out a nondescript CD-ROM containing a
list of 100,000 names.
The list showed it was not small farmers who necessarily benefited most from Brussels' largess but big agribusiness
The new discussion has also put a fresh focus on the dwindling number of small farmers in Europe and, since most of the rest of Europe does not yet have the same openness to sharing public sector data, has added to the
stirrings of a Continent-wide push to reveal who else is receiving what from Brussels.
"What are we getting for our money?" . "It is public money, but is it doing something that is valued by the public?"
The Scottish and Welsh authorities, fearing legal action for publishing private information, have so far spared their farmers.
The activists who triggered the outbreak of openness were emulating a U.S. campaign, which, according to Liz Moore of the Washington-based Environmental Working Group, in 2001 forced the revelation that U.S.
government subsidies were being paid to thousands of dead American farmers, as well as to celebrities and businessmen, and even to a basketball star.
In Europe, Denmark was the first to go down the openness route. Last year, following a campaign by two journalists, figures were released that showed that Brussels money had gone to members of the Danish royal family, big companies, state prisons, and politicians, according to Nils Mulvad, one of the
journalists. "We now have concrete information on how this system actually functions," he said.
The campaigners want other countries to open up.
The powerful battalions of German and French farmers may, however, prove more successful than the British and the Danes in keeping the size of their paychecks secret.
Mariann Fischer Boel, the EU agriculture commissioner, said that she personally favored full transparency but that national capitals must decide.
Last month, however, Siim Kallas, the EU's new administration commissioner, declared an initiative to close the "information gap."
In the meantime, the influence of urban mores is already having an effect on subsidies.
From this year, parts of Europe's farm payments have been "decoupled" from production and tied instead to environmental conditions.
Farmers will still get roughly the same amount of money, but instead of producing mountains of food to qualify for subsidy, they must deliver clean rivers and flowering hedgerows, the kind of public goods that today's overwhelmingly urban majority - even among England's rural population, only about 1.2 percent now work in agriculture - wants to enjoy in its countryside.(No nitrate free rivers in ireland ! No walking in the countryside.)
For extra income, European farmers must look to the open market and, according to Stefan Tangermann, director for agriculture at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development in Paris, to value-added products- Europe's wonderful cheeses and its world-famous wines, which should be able to command a healthy world market - rather than the nondescript bulk produce they have concentrated on in past decades.
The new transparency, by showing how little Brussels actually gives to small scale farmers, may ensure continued public sympathy, and financial support, for the hardy sons and daughters of Europe's soil in their new incarnations as cheesemakers, vintners and environmental stewards of the land. The latest figures for the overall European budget show that the vast majority of EU aid coming into Ireland - almost two thirds of the €2.8bn received - goes to a small number of farmers. Apart from drawing direct common agricultural support, worth €1.8bn, the majority of structural aid, €771m, also goes to fund farm pensions and other agriculture-related schemes.
The latest figures for the overall European budget show that the vast majority of EU aid coming into Ireland - almost two thirds of the €2.8bn received - goes to a small number of farmers.
Apart from drawing direct common agricultural support, worth €1.8bn, the majority of structural aid, €771m, also goes to fund farm pensions and other agriculture-related schemes.
Padraig suffers from severe amnesia-as do the rest of the Fianna Failers copy and paste the link below into your browser.Download Realplayer here also for free if you have not got it.
PROSECUTIONS against several witnesses to the Flood Tribunal, including former government minister Ray Burke, seem certain after yesterday's damning report which found a web of political corruption, collusion and concealment.
Mr Justice Feargus Flood has sent his hard-hitting interim report to the Director of Public Prosecutions, having concluded that a number of key witnesses "obstructed and hindered" his work over the past five years.
He found that Mr Burke a former Minister for Justice and for Foreign Affairs received "corrupt" payments totalling over €250,000 from property developers and leading businessmen.
He also concluded that the transfer of Mr Burke's former Swords home 'Briargate' from builder Tom Brennan and his associates amounted to "a corrupt payment".
That means, in effect, that Mr Burke benefitted from corruption to the tune of €4m by today's property values.
Taoiseach Bertie Ahern came under attack last night from opposition parties for appointing Mr Burke as Foreign Affairs Minister in June 1997. He brought the Dublin North TD back to the Cabinet while he was under a cloud of suspicion.
Mr Ahern defended his actions, saying he did not then have the benefit of full disclosure or of the five years' of investigations Judge Flood had carried out.
The report covers three modules of the tribunal's work, dealing with builders Brennan and McGowan, Century Radio and James Gogarty, whose original allegations began the process leading to the setting up of the inquiry by the Dail in 1997.
So far, the tribunal has cost €21m but €34.5m has been recovered by the Revenue Commissioners and the Criminal Assets Bureau, with more to come.
And much of the €21m outlay will be re-couped as costs will be levied from those who obstructed or hindered its enquiries.
Mr Flood's direct language and tough line was being seen last night as putting down a clear marker for the remainder of the tribunal, which is expected to resume public hearings next month.
The report lists people who obstructed the inquiry or would not co-operate with it in the course of 313 days of public hearings involving 170 witnesses.
These include builders Tom Brennan and Joseph McGowan, auctioneer John Finnegan, the late Joseph Murphy (snr) of JMSE, Joseph Murphy (jnr), builder Michael Bailey, his brother Tom Bailey and Mrs Caroline Bailey, impressario Oliver Barry and businessman James Stafford.
Reacting to the 400-page report, Tanaiste Mary Harney, currently in Russia, said a finding of corruption was "a very serious matter" and the conclusions were "clear and unambiguous".
The Government is to go ahead with its previously-announced intention to set up a Corruption Assets Bureau.
The Taoiseach said those who benefited from corruption had to be hit where it hurt "in the pocket".
Mr Ahern has ordered that the Flood report should now be sent to the Garda Commissioner, the Criminal Assets Bureau, the Revenue Commissioners and the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement.
Gene McKenna, Fergus Black, Marese McDonagh and Kathy Donaghy
How many of them went to jail?. One, for 12 weeks. (Ray Burke) All his assets are in his wifes name for years and the Criminal Assets Bureau is prohibited from seizing transferred assets.!
24/3/05 Minister blocks information about farm subsidies - Herald
18/3/05 Scots farm cash stays private - Scotsman
13/1/05 Farmers face disclosure of CAP subsidies - Scotsman
7/1/05 EU farm subsidies uncovered - Guardian
Title: Minister blocks information about farm subsidies
Minister blocks information about farm subsidies
DOUGLAS FRASER, Scottish Political Editor March 24 2005
A LIBERAL Democrat minister at Holyrood is blocking access to information about European farm subsidies which Labour ministers have released for England. Ross Finnie, the agriculture minister, is refusing to say who gets what
under the Common Agricultural Policy in Scotland, other than that 739 farmers and businesses received more than £100,000 each during 2003. Yet the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has published information showing the amounts paid to 100,000 individual farmers, as well as the large sums paid to corporate agri-business. Tate & Lyle tops the list with a £127m subsidy, and a further 11 companies last year received more than £10m each. Much of the £3.9bn paid through the controversial CAP goes to companies which are not directly involved in farming.
But attempts to find out the details for Scotland have been blocked by the agriculture department headed by Mr Finnie. It has been decided that release of the information would breach the Data Protection Act and European legislation relating to CAP. That means there is information publicly available showing that the Queen receives £400,000 towards her private at Sandringham, which includes a public park and commercial apple orchard, but it is not possible to find out the subsidy she receives for her Balmoral property. It is also not possible to find out the subsidies to major Scottish landowners, such as the Duke of Buccleuch. According to a spokesman for Defra: "We felt it was more important to have this information out and in the public domain. We haven't ignored the Data Protection Act, but having made an assessment under all the interlocking legislation in this field, we concluded that the balance is in favour of disclosure. Why the Scottish and Welsh devolved administrations come to a different conclusion, I don't know."
The Scottish Executive has released figures broken down by the tranches in which payments are made. The most recent figures show for 2003 that one agricultural business in Scotland secured more than £950,000 in subsidy, while another, also unnamed, was granted more than £700,000.
Three more farmers earned more than £550,000 from CAP, and 734 farmers earned between £100,000 and £500,000 from the European scheme during that year. The executive has declined to give any further information on these individual payments.
With the subsidy arrangements under the CAP changing this year, Mr Finnie has promised that the new payments will be automatically published infuture."
Title: Scots farm cash stays private
Scots farm cash stays private
JAMES KIRKUP AND FORDYCE MAXWELL
SCOTS farmers will be spared from disclosing all but a few of their subsidy payments, unlike their English counterparts who face the publication of all funds they receive from the European Union.
Despite objections from the National Farmers Union in England, the Rural Payments Agency will release details next week of how much individual farms have been paid under the EU¹s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).
The disclosure, forced on the government by the Freedom of Information Act, could see payments to landowners, including the Queen and the Prince of Wales, made public for the first time.Peter Kendall, the NFU deputy president, said: "We argued that this blanket disclosure is not sensitive to the position of some individual farmers."
In Scotland, the NFU told the Scottish Executive during talks earlier this year that it had no objection in principle to disclosing information.
Nonetheless, an Executive spokeswoman said last night that officials have concluded data about Scots payments is exempt "because of data protection principles and European legislation".
A spokeswoman for the Rural Payments Agency, which oversees most of the £1.7 billion in CAP payments received by British farmers, said it would release only a few details on Scottish farmers.
Only payments made to Scottish farmers outside the Integrated Administration and Control System - which covers most subsidies for livestock and land - will be made public from Tuesday.
Title: Farmers face disclosure of CAP subsidies
Farmers face disclosure of CAP subsidies
FORDYCE MAXWELL RURAL AFFAIRS EDITOR
A LIST of every farmers annual single farm payment will eventually be published by the Scottish Executive to comply with new freedom of information legislation.
Announcing the publics right to know who gets what in subsidies, Ross Finnie, the rural development minister, told the environment and rural development parliarmentary committee yesterday: "The Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act increases the openness and accountability of public administration. People have a right to find out how their taxes are spent.
"The new method of CAP support provides public funds in return for farmers meeting environmental and agricultural standards and I believe it is right that people should know how this money is spent."
He said that farmers - who have argued against public disclosure ofsubsidies received by individuals within the 400 million that Scottish farming receives annually - could use the new system to demonstrate the public benefits they are delivering.
CAP reform has moved from a range of production subsidies, mainly for cattle, sheep, grain and oilseed, to a single annual payment, the first of which will be due at the end of this year. The minister said: "For the new single farm payment and new schemes underthe rural development regulation we will make it clear to farmers when they apply that our policy will be to disclose information about payments they receive."
Past payments could still be subject to commercial confidentiality because subsidies were based on production, he said: "But let me be clear - ultimately I would like to see all CAP subsidy information disclosed."
Title: EU farm subsidies uncovered
EU farm subsidies uncovered
Royals must declare sums under freedom of information
David Hencke and Rob Evans Friday January 7, 2005 The Guardian
The Queen, Prince Charles, big landowners and the Co-op are to be obliged to declare millions of pounds of EU farm subsidies they receive every year inthe most radical move taken by ministers since the Freedom of Information Act came into force on January 1. The decision was announced within hours of the government receiving a request from the Guardian to disclose details of the 3.4bn annual subsidies The "open government" initiative is backed by two former ministers, a prominent Labour peer and British and European thinktanks.
It is understood that the Queen and Prince Charles qualify for the biggest payments because of their large land holdings farmed by tenants in the duchies of Lancaster and Cornwall. Scotland's largest claimant is believed to be the Duke of Buccleuch, said to be Britain's largest private landowner. Last year, Oxfam estimated that seven of Britain's richest men collectively earn more than 2m a year in payouts from the EU. The group estimated that one of the richest, the Duke of Westminster, receives 326,000 in subsidies a year, while another, the Duke of Marlborough, attracts 369,000 for his arable farm on the Blenheim estate, Oxfordshire.
The Co-operative Society is one of the largest claimants because it has more than 100 farms covering 85,000 acres.
Lord Whitty, the farming minister, announced the move at the annual NFUfarming conference in Oxford. He told farmers that he wanted the change to come into force in April when a simplified system, known as single payments
is introduced. "I have personally always been uncomfortable that individual payments of subsidy to farmers under CAP [ the Common Agricultural Policy] were not subject to public disclosure as they are for example in Denmark.
"Four days ago the Freedom of Information Act came into force. Whilst there may have been some partial justification for non-disclosure of production-related subsidy, there will be none under FOI in relation to single payment. Not all decisions have yet been reached on this, but I will certainly be recommending that in relation to future payments all single
payment details should be subject to disclosure." He also indicated that his ministry would not fight the Guardian's request,
telling delegates: "FOI applies retrospectively and it is possible that the [information] commissioner [Richard Thomas] or the courts will deem historic information also to be disclosable."
Lord Whitty's announcement was welcomed by Nick Brown, the former agriculture minister: "This is a great victory for the Guardian. When I was a minister I had a struggle to be allowed to see the individual figures, let alone be able to publish them. They will reveal that some 80% of the subsidy goes to 20% of the farmers. Some of the biggest sums are well in excess of 1m a year."
Michael Wills, the former minister in charge of freedom of information, said: "This shows that the benefits of having a Freedom of Information Act are beginning to work."
Lord Haskins, the Labour peer and chairman of Northern Foods, said: "It is very good news that this information will become public. It is public money and nobody should be ashamed of receiving it."