Note to taxpayers:
One of the thousands of poor farmers who paid off the Revenue Commissioners during recent years was caught for more than €1.6m to settle his tax affairs and given a two-year suspended jail sentence.
Dundalk Circuit Criminal court heard that John Oliver Byrne (56), Strandfield House, Mountpleasant, Dundalk, had 157 previous convictions in the Republic and the North, including one for fraud amounting to stg£1.3m (€1.94m).
Byrne was before the court for failing to make tax returns. He was accompanied in court by the former Fine Gael TD for Louth, Brendan McGahon.
The Revenue investigation found he had been operating a "substantial" business delivering grain to merchants throughout the country "for a number of years".
The court had already heard he owned two farms, one at Mountpleasant and the other in Belleeks, in the North. He was also a cattle farmer and rented land to other farmers, he added. Some 86 of the previous convictions are in Northern Ireland and while they are mainly for road traffic offences, Mr Byrne was convicted in Belfast Crown Court in December 1999 in relation to making fraudulent claims for grain subsidies that amounted to stg£1.3m. He received a one-year suspended jail term. He has 71 previous convictions in the Republic, of which 22 are for breaches of the liquor licensing laws. Judge McCartan said that Byrne had carried "a significant burden but that was of his own making". He was a lifelong farmer but was also a man who had lived "completely outside the good order of things". The judge imposed a two-year jail term, but then suspended it upon Byrne entering into a bond of good behaviour for two years. see also:
This is what it cost you the taxpayer in promises, when the farmers re-elected vote FF in 2007:
A 500 million a year injection from 2007 into farm structures to be part of the National Development Plan 2007-2013.
A three-year restructuring and investment plan for the dairy processing sector, to be led by Enterprise Ireland with a dedicated budget of 100 million.
A new farm modernisation scheme to cover all aspects of agriculture, with 50 per cent grant aid in disadvantaged areas and 40 per cent in other areas.
A national initiative on farm consolidation, including both relief from capital gains tax and stamp duty, and long-term land leasing incentives, to encourage investment and consolidation of land.
A suckler herd maintenance programme designed to support 60,000 livestock farmers with payment equivalent to 100 per suckler beef cow.
Increased payments in the early retirement scheme to facilitate the transfer of land to younger farmers and tax breaks for young farmers setting up in the business.
€500m-€1bn for grants for slurry storage to meet Nitrates requirements
€500m to allow walking tourists access to the upland hill and mountain areas
And this is what you the well screwed taxpayer will get in return:
A contribution of 2.3% to GNP.!
When farmers are not busy blocking ramblers or Dail Eireann with their tractors they are growing cattle and sugar beet and milking their cows.
Farmers received record levels of direct payments last year, according to the Department of Agriculture's latest annual review and outlook.
The deparment said farmers received a total of €2.25bn in such payments in 2005.
There are about 125,000 farmers in Ireland,some of whom are part time and others are large rancher style enterprises,such as owned by big business tycoons such as Larry Gooodman.
This sum averages out at 18000 euros per farmer,equivalent to the average wage of many of our citizens in the private sector.
So whats the Beef? the farmer gets paid to produce it.The factory gets paid to slaughter it .Then it gets paid again to export it to the third world.!
However the top 18 recipients of taxpayers money under the new so called "Single Payment Scheme" which eliminates all form filling for these numerous handouts, are as follows;
Irish Agricultural Development co. Euros, 508,390.30
Kepak Farm Euros, 346,118.20
John O Shea Euros, 304,382.76
Patrick Reynolds Euros,284,834,47
Cyril Goode Euros,257,060.79
Richard Cope Euros,229,814.76.
Simon Mangan Euros,224,421.07
Patrick Howard Euros,212,358.49
Desmond Conroy Euros,207,104.37.
Michael Smith Euros,201,798.78
John Pearson Euros,186,091.08
Denis Feighery Euros,177,258.40.
Richard H.Bourns Euros,173,051.67.
John OMeara Euros171,040.64.
The top 6 Companies which "Dumped" their unwanted, overpriced, irish beef cheaply in Russia,Libya, or other third world countries outside the E.U. received compensation as follows for their efforts;
Irish Dairy Board Co-Op Ltd: Euros 72,626,132.96. (yes thats 72 million!..)
Bailie Foods Ltd Euros 24 million,429,578.63.
Glanbia Ingredients Virginia Euros 19 million,209,306.35.
R&A Bailey Ltd Euros 9 million,442,887.21
Kerry ingredients Charleville Euros 4 million,654,952.70.
Dillion Livestock Exports Euros 4,million,328,314.28.
Farmers are in the main the shareholders of most of the stock of Irish food processing companies,and have seen their assets quadruple in value in recent years.
Question when was the last time YOU could afford to buy a nice "T" bone steak.?
A FORMER EU Commissioner has supported the stand of a farmer who has turned down a Lotto-type multi-million euro offer from housing developers for his land.Former Agriculture Commissioner, Franz Fischler, admitted that he is "deeply impressed" by the principled stand taken by Billy McAuliffe, from Castlelyons, north Cork, who said he doesn't want the cash. Mr McAuliffe wants Cork County Council to dezone the land so it can remain as fields for farming. He said: "What do I want with that kind of money? This land has been in my family for decades - these fields were for farming when I got them and I wantthem to be farmed after me." The farmer has refused the Lotto-type offers, despite the fact he could still have retained almost 75pc of his farm.The stand by Mr McAuliffe stunned many neighbours.
"After I turned down one offer, the developer gave me back cheek about what I was doing. But it's my land and I want it to stay they way its been for centuries. You only have to look at other villages to see that development can ruin a place," he added.
Walkers and landowners are embroiled in a new dispute over access rights to some of Co Wicklow's best-known walking areas, including parts of the Wicklow Way. Last year Wicklow County Council removed 13 rights of way from its development plan. This followed a campaign by members of the Irish Farmers' Association (IFA), which said landowners were not consulted by the council over the routes. The council has now established a committee to examine and make recommendations on each of those 13 rights of way, and to consult with affected farmers.
The delisting of a further 33 access routes in the plan is due to be discussed by the council , with proposals to refer them to the same committee. The committee would then recommend whether they should be removed from the plan, modified or reinstated. The routes include some of the best-known walking paths in Co Wicklow, including a section of the Wicklow Way, and several close to Glendalough. Many link on to paths in the State-owned Wicklow National Park, which covers much of the Wicklow Mountains. Keep Ireland Open, which has been campaigning on rights of way and rights of access issues, has claimed the removal could lead to a situation where the only available walking routes in Wicklow were in the national park and Coillte-owned lands.
Local Fine Gael councillor Derek Mitchell claimed that the plan to remove the routes was a retrograde step and such routes needed to be developed and protected by the council. He said farmers previously had "a valid problem over insurance" but that had been dealt with by a recent Supreme Court decision which found landowners had no liability relating to recreational users on their lands. Independent councillor Christopher Fox, who is a member of the committee examining the routes, said the current listing would not work, and that Keep Ireland Open was trying to "impose routes on landowners, which is not the way forward".
IFA representative and farmer Tom Byrne said the main reason for farmers' opposition to the inclusion of the routes related to the imposition of "a legal burden" on their lands, while he claimed that some of the listed routes were incorrectly mapped.
He said landowners continued to allow access to walkers and had no intention of blocking access or charging walkers. "All we're asking for is for people to sit down and talk to us" he said.(And give us more money)
In October 2005,the IFA calls for money for poor farmers and talks to end a row over access to a scenic lake;
A SENIOR figure within the Irish Farmers’ Association in Waterford called for an independent arbitrator to be appointed in an effort to break the deadlock which has resulted in one of the county’s most popular locations becoming inaccessible to the general public. Six weeks ago picturesque Crotty’s Lake at the foot of the Comeragh Mountains near the village of Rathgormack was declared to be out of bounds by landowner Bernard Cullinane. Mr Cullinane had become embroiled in a planning dispute with Waterford County Council earlier this year and subsequently decided that access to the lake would no longer be available to the general public and warned that trespassers would be prosecuted. The withdrawal of a facility which had been in existence for generations provoked strong reaction from many quarters, and while a majority of mountain walkers have respected the landowner’s decision, some have been confrontational in trying to force their way onto the Cullinane land.
Fianna Fail construction boss, with a neck like a Mullingar Heifer.
Meanwhile,"Friend of Fianna Fail" and "Golden circle associate" , COLLEN CONSTRUCTION boss, Neil Collen, who was locked in conflict with the jailed Dublin 'brickies",in March 2006, is no stranger to courtroom battles with hill walkers or trade union activists. He has also conflicted with local walking activists near his house in Enniskerry, where he has been engaged in a protracted campaign against a number of neighbouring residents. Local hill walkers and others had been of the opinion for many years that a route across the Glencree Valley on Collen’s land was a public right of way. Initially, Collen’s lawyers threatened the authors of a local hill-walking guide with legal action after they had published information about the route. Then he threatened to sue the North Wicklow Times for publishing details of a protest march along the route as well as a local artist who had posted the newspaper the protest details.
Later, Collen’s legal team secured an injunction banning the march and followed upwith a demand in the Wicklow Circuit Court that the chairman of the Enniskerry Walking Association, Niall Lennoach, be jailed for publicly urging protesters to walk the ‘right of way’.
Lennoach remained at large as the judge refused to jail him and when the substantive issue of the right of way was heard last year, Judge Bryan McMahon ruled in the Wicklow Circuit Court that the route was a public right of way and that Collen’s father, Lyle Collen, had clearly designated it to be so.
Now, Collen has lodged an appeal and following several requests for adjournments by his lawyers, wants a re-run of the issue.
Since then, the Attorney General has weighed in on the side of the hill walkers in order to protect one of the few court rulings that safeguards a public right of way. Back on the building sites, Collen’s legal offensive against trade unionist bricklayers did not begin recently. In 2001 he secured injunctions against 17 brickies protesting against conditions on Dublin building sites. They were also ordered to pay 250 fines for further picketing.
(Article courtesy of the Phoenix magazine)
Meanwhile,the colourful Kerry joker T.D.,Healy Rae (atypical of the Soldier of Destiny style local yokel ), is to apply for a licence to shoot wild deer in Kerry !, arguing that the National Parks and Wildlife Service is failing to tackle the problem of deer wandering out of Killarney National Park and on to busy roads.Independent Fianna Fáil councillor Michael Healy-Rae said deer were crossing the road in front of cars in Kilgarvan and Killarney and causing accidents, "virtually on a daily basis".
Mr Healy-Rae, who is an experienced hunter of game birds and foxes, did not anticipate problems with shooting deer, he said.He has indicated that he will avail of the helicopter which Kerry county council hire on a regular basis for "seek and destroy" missions against illegal dumpers in the mountains.!
A Revenue agent with his catch in the Kerry mountains.? A neighbour of Healy Rae, another Fianna Fail stalwart,T.D. Denis Foley was also (one of many Fianna Fail T.D,s countrywide) manhunted in the Kerry Mountains, not by helicopter borne waste management enforcers,or Healy Rae-but by a Revenue posse!
Boss of the local Fianna Fail "Don Corleone" family ,Denis was relieved of a considerable sum of cash (approx half a million euros). He has therefore,in order not to to disgrace (come election time) his master Bertie,announced that his pretty daughter schoolteacher Norma Foley is taking over the reins for the Kerry Soldiers.! They never really go away do they.?
Meanwhile down Limerick way ,T.D. Deputy Michael Collins (Fianna Fail-as usual) also fell foul of the dreaded revenue,and announced his retirement from politics to avoid embarrasment to Saint Bert, come next election time. His nephew Cllr.Niall Collins hopes to step into his shoes however. Niall has not yet amassed sufficient funds to seek an offshore haven for his earnings, but give him time...
His Dad Michael had an apparently modest, bogus offshore account to evade the onerous public duty of paying income tax -or perhaps declaring the source of the hidden funds on an income tax form would have been a double embarrasment(Ray Burke style). Who knows ? Michael paid revenue a modest 130,000 euros in back taxes,so whatever he was up to it was not highly lucrative.
Death and Taxes are the only two certainties that catch us all..in the end.
I wonder will Bertie,their patron saint for so long, now oblige by publishing the current list of 8000 single premium insurance bond holders who have been caught redhanded, hiding their loot in Insurance investment products for the past 20 years.While current Revenue practice of allowing tax defaulters to "buy" their way off the quarterly published list and remain anonymous ,on payment of a "surcharge" of ten percent of the total due,may be a nice little revenue earner; it would be a nicer favour to Irish citizens,that they could ascertain whether they are unknowingly voting for one of them, come next election time. Of course their nephews can step in if needed. Nothing changes in Irish politics.
where have all the farmers gone?-to bank their money every one!
Where have all the poor farmers gone?all gone to the bank every one.!
June of 2004,I read two interesting articles around the same period ,concerning the cost of Minister Cullen’s new Super highways and how some of the mammoth Health Budget is spent in distant parts of the Island.
The newspapers declined to reprint my views on the subject,so I offer it to you as a ‘premier release’but first the details of the Irish Times report;-
36,000 euros an acre paid for 'low-hope' land
Farmers in the mid-west have received more than €36,000 per acre for land with "low hope" development value from the National Roads Authority (NRA).
The payments, made under the 2001 deal between the Irish Farmers Association and the Government, show that when the separate compensation categories of goodwill, injurious affection, severance, disturbance and "new for old" buildings are included, the initial price paid for land in the mid-west rose by a multiple of five before compensation was agreed.
However, in a number of cases, particularly over lands required for the Fermoy by-pass in Co Cork and the Carrickmacross by-pass in Co Monaghan, the proposed payments were deemed insufficient by farmers.
In test cases to come before a new arbitration system to get under way within weeks, farmers argue that their deal with the Government allows them to take into account the value of similar parcels of land in the locality - even development land which bears full planning permission.
The farmers maintain that under Paragraph 10 of their agreement the compensation they may receive should take into account the price of a similar amount of land locally. Some have argued that the only available land in the area is development land where a farmer is selling sites.
The Irish Times understands that some farmers have made submissions, backed up by valuers and professional property consultants, that on this basis they should be paid development land prices for their land.
The NRA has told the Department of Transport it is opposed to this interpretation of the paragraph which, it says, was put into the deal to get an aggregate value of local land and not the most expensive development land. Although the NRA was a signatory to the IFA deal, it was precluded from the final talks.
Since it was signed in 2001, "medium-hope" value in the mid-west has been valued at more than €54,000. Land with "high-hope" value was acquired at just under €64,000.
Should agreement not be reached on the test cases before the new arbitration system, which is non-binding, the way would be open for the cases to be referred to the State's normal arbitration compulsory purchase system which is binding.
Recent cases under the compulsory purchase system have given awards of more than €220,000 per acre for land required for the Ennis by-pass in Co Clare. In Sligo, compensation payments made more than €628,000 per acre for non-zoned land with "hope value" for a commercial zoning.
‘Oh to be a farmer in the way of Martin Cullen’s bulldozers!’
Irish farmers countrywide were receiving compensation payments of up 64,000 Euros an acre in the years 2003/2004, for-in some cases- scrub land, purchased by the N.R.A. to build the plethora of new highways which minister Cullen was building across archaeological sites throughout the nation.In some cases up to 500,000 Euros an acre,has made instant millionaires of our poor farmers.Thanks be to God,for Bertie..amen.
In other instances like the Carrickmines debacle,massive compensation is being claimed from landowners who in a corruption-free environment would never receive re-zoning to built on such sensitive sites,in the first instance.
Is it any wonder that the final estimates for our new infrastructure end up costing three times more than envisaged.?
THE total spend on national roads since 1997 stands at almost €20bn, three times the original estimates, new figures obtained by the Sunday Independent revealed finally in May 2006.
Opposition TDs and anti-motorway campaigners have said the amount spent represents "very poor value for money", as many of the projects undertaken overran in costs and time.
The figures obtained from the Department of Transport, the National Roads Authority (NRA) and the office of the Comptroller and Auditor General (C&AG) show that the original estimated cost of the National Development Plan, due to run between 2000 and 2006, was €5.6bn.
By 2002 that figure had risen to over €15bn. On Friday, it emerged that the figure now stands at over €18bn. Add that to the €1.5bn spent on roads between 1997 and 2000, and the total spend on the national roads in nine years stands at approximately €19.5bn, well over triple the original estimates.
Since 1997, the Government has undertaken over 50 major national road projects, including the Dublin Port Tunnel, now costing over €750m (up from €448m); the M3 motorway and the upgrade of the M50, now at a cost of over €1bn.
Under the NDP, the Government sought to build five major routes from Dublin to the four corners of the country. However, in the vast majority of these projects, costs have spiralled dramatically and a high number will not be prepared until 2010.
The Department of Transport said that its total spend for the period between 1997 and the end of 2006 will be €9.3bn. It said these figures account for construction costs and maintenance of the routes. Crucially however, the department's figures don't account for the acquisition of land or any cost increases due to delays, which opposition TDs say are the reasons for the huge overrun on costs.
Olivia Mitchell, the Fine Gael party's transport spokeswoman, said that the deal done with farmers just before the last election in 2002, over compensation for the loss of their land for the projects, was the main cause of the spike in costs.
She told the Sunday Independent in May 2006: "The farmers were kicking up a fuss before the election, a deal was done and the farmers went away quiet and happy. It's no coincidence that, in the months after that deal was done, the costs trebled.!" Indeed and would Fine Gael have done any better.?
In 2001, the Tom Parlon, then IFA leader, now Minister in the Fianna Fail government led a campaign to have farmers compensated at development land prices in respect of land acquired for road building.
Up to €4.6bn euro of the €18.5bn euro of taxpayers' money that will be spent on new main roads over the next decade will go into the pockets of landowners. Fred Barry, chief executive of the National Roads Authority is reported as saying that the increases in the cost of land for major roads projects as "disturbing".
Land acquisition accounts for 23% of the cost of roads projects in Ireland, but just 12% in England, 10% in Denmark, 9.4% in Greece and 1% in Iceland. A further 2% of the €18.5bn provided in the Government's Transport 21 for road building over the next decade will go to archaeologists.
Farmers with land near towns are part of the new system of landlordism and first time buyers on 40 yr mortgages end up making them millionaires.
We are 4% urbanised and the beneficiaries including Parlon, as farmers get public welfare via the Common Agricultural Policy primarily paid by Dutch and German taxpayers.
Bartholmew Ahern,s brand of Socialism?
The PDs started a pre election campaign against stamp duty in 2006 but silence on the land cost rip-off.
The site cost as a % of the total cost of a house has risen from 12-15% in the mid 1990's to over 40% today.
The system we have is more one of cronysism and corruption than liberal economics.
It is bizarre that a planning corruption tribunal could sit for more than 9 years, and there has been ZERO reform in the intervening time, in the system that spawned the corruption?
Prosperity built on a property boom and land rip off by farmers plus US investment, is not a permanent state?
Bertie Ahern ought to consider his party’s position and let the people who really run (and milk) this country dry,park their tractors forthwith, in Leinster House.
Some things, it seems, never change .Many of the same faces who formed part of the most corrupt cabinet ever to re-gain power in 1987-with the cornerstone of a handful of power hungry P.D.’bodyguards’(led by Mary Hearney) ,are still pre-eminent.
While Burke,and Flynn,are( finally?) gone . Brennan,Cullen,Ahearn,-all the same old pack are still wearily clinging to office,just as Haughey did,leech like and irremovable into old age.
During their long reign,we know now,as we always suspected, that only the ‘little people’ever paid taxes…Builders,Publicans,Farmers, etc paid nothing.
.The stroking continued unabated even when C.J.H.retired with his ill gotten gains donated by these big business interests who never paid a penny to the exchequer. Nothing has changed under Bertie Ahern.!
Finally;An exchange of letters (me and a farmer!) in the Irish Independent;
Rip off Ireland was in the news ‘ad nauseam’ in 2004 and the Irish Independent web site printed a few letters of mine..included is another farmers reply..and so on!;
‘God introduced me to The Canary Islands in my 54th year,whence I sold out my pension assets in Ireland, in the property boom ,and retired to a land of eternal sunshine,and pretty much everything else at half the Irish price including cars ,fuel food wine,property,etc,etc. If the cries of anguish from my Motherland had any substance,the pubs,and restaurants for a start,would be empty.! Enough of the whining-you all sound like the poor farmers.!’
John McDermott, Gran Canaria, Puerto Rico
I wrote a second letter in the same E-mail website discussion
‘If anyone believes there will be an end soon to rip off Ireland please look at current government policy; It is abundantly clear that Fianna Fail are determined to push on with ‘decentralization’ whatever the long term cost in inefficiency of services. The taxpayer will be bled for the ensuing chaos,during the coming decades- not Bertie and his discredited buffoons who will be retired by then, with their generous T.D’s pensions. While wealthy speculators arrange the diversion of public infrastructure in Dublin to facilitate their vast property empires,the unprecedented railroading of thousands of civil servants to facilitate vested interests countrywide, is clearly the biggest political and financial ‘stroke’ in the history of the Irish State. It will leave Charlie Haughey and Liam Lawlor and Ray Burke’s antics in the shade.
Fianna Fail are already embarked on a land buying scheme which will see their cronies building offices and leasing them back to the taxpayer-whether occupied or not- for the next 25 years. The bill will be calculated in billions,-yes-billions of euros! If any of the weak and ineffectual opposition parties had any gumption they would be alerting the public to the full implications of this catastrophe, and vehemently calling for massive ‘people’protests to bring down this government -as Marcos and his corrupt administration was toppled-before it is too late. The Farmers cavalcade can block Merrion square when their interests are threatened..the common citizens appear to be too preoccupied with the cost of alcohol in public houses to see the real threat to their children’s legacy. It is a sad day for the people of Ireland.’
John McDermott, (retired) Gran Canaria, Spain
One farmer replied…
‘By the way, could someone tell John McDermott that, while God sent him to the Canary Islands in his his 54th year, he negated to give him a geography lesson. Gran Canaria is a territory of Spain, off the coast of Morocco, to the west. Puerto Rico is a dependency of the United States, and is to be found in the Carribean. While we may sound like poor farmers, John, at least we are educated poor farmers. Get a grip.
(The Irish Farmers Association bully boys and gombeen men were blocking traditional walking footpaths in the Wicklow mountains at this time in September 2004)
‘Correcting your letter from farmer Geoff Dolan, Puerto Rico where I live, is a popular tourist resort in the south of Gran Canaria,well known to thousands of Dubliners who enjoy a good holiday there every year.By the way there are no I.F.A. members blocking the mountain footpaths here.All are welcome to enjoy the environment that God created for us for the little time we spend on this earth.
John McDermott.Puerto Rico,Gran Canaria’
Ahern, this ones for you.. http://www.clinteastwood.net
Tax-cheat farmers to get E.U. funds from Bert Ahern,having to produce evidence of honesty in their dealings with the state...
SOME 583 tax-cheating farmers will get the new EU Single Farm Payment next December - without producing a tax clearance certificate, the Department of Agriculture has confirmed. Farmers are the country’s biggest tax cheats and have paid over €45 million in default payments to the Revenue Commissioners over a three-year period,
according to an Irish Examiner analysis of the official figures. This was an average payment of €77,857 for each tax-defaulting farmer from March 2002 to March 2005.
A separate Revenue Commissioners report has also revealed that farmers paid the smallest income tax contribution of 1.5% compared with the PAYE workers, who paid the largest amount at 77.5% in 2002. In money terms, this translated to PAYE workers paying €6.7 billion in income tax that year compared to farmers who paid only €126.2m.
A COMPANY owned by beef baron Larry Goodman is the country's top earner under the Single Farm Payment. The firm Irish Agricultural Development got over €500,000 a year from the EU.
And the names of two wealthy tillage farmers, who sought to suppress details of their six-figure earnings from Brussels, can now be revealed.
Walter Furlong from Co Wexford receives €263,049 a year from the EU's Single Farm Payment while Cork farmer Terence Coughlan receives €244,857.
Both men objected to having their names and earnings released in a Freedom of Information request by this newspaper, but the Information Commissioner upheld our right to gain access in a recent ruling.
Mr Furlong from Co Wexford is primarily a tillage farmer with about 2,500 acres of land in Wexford and south Kilkenny and he also owns a major chunk of the Target fertiliser company.
Terence Coughlan from Rathcormac in Co Cork is also primarily a tillage farmer with about 2000 acres, the vast majority of which is leased to grow wheat and barley.
Mr Furlong is Ireland's fifth highest earner under the scheme and Mr Coughlan is in seventh place.
The average farmer earns about €11,000 from the system, according to the Irish Farmers Association last year,who belatedly called for a cap on the maximum amount which can be received.
The money paid from Common Agricultural Policy funds is based on the level of subsidies paid in the past to farmers.
The system was radically overhauled two years ago so that farmers no longer have to produce any food or animals on their land to receive it.
The aim was to end the system where farmers were producing unprofitable crops purely to receive the highest possible level of subsidy.
The current system is supposed to run until 2013, but it came under strong attack from Britain last year and could face further challenges in the years ahead.
The names of the highest earners were released to the Irish Independent last year by the Department of Agriculture and Food last August, but Mr Furlong and Mr Coughlan objected.
However the Office of the Information Commissioner subsequently upheld the Department's decision to release all the information demanded.
The top 10 recipients are: 1. Irish Agricultural Development €508,390; 2. Kepak Farm €346,118; 3. John O'Shea €304,383; 4. Patrick Reynolds €284,838; 5. Walter Furlong €263,049; 6. Cyril Goode €257,061; 7. Terence Coughlan €244,857; 8. Richard Cope €229,815; 9. Simon Mangan €224,421; 10. Patrick Howard €212,358.
Farmers, sewage pollute 30pc of waters
ALMOST one-third of rivers are still polluted by farmers and clapped out sewage plants despite Government claims the country has cleaned up its act.
There has been no improvement in our poor river water quality, the EPA's state of the Irish environment report revealed in Sept 2006
Some 30pc of all groundwater samples taken by the environment agency contained bacteria, mostly potentially fatal e-coli.
This water is used as a source of most of the country's drinking water.
"There are widespread groundwater quality problems associated with local microbiological contamination," says the report.
According to the report, almost 30pc of our river length, some 7,000km, remains either moderately or slightly polluted.
The number of reported fish kills remains "unacceptably high" and the report urges better control of sewage and industrial discharges.
Farmers are slammed for not properly managing fertilisers and slurries running off into rivers.
A Co Tipperary father and son who introduced a BSE-infected animal into a herd to obtain State compensation have each been jailed for three years.Thomas Snr (72) and Jeremiah Hickey (38) of Grange, Nenagh, were convicted last month at Nenagh Circuit Criminal Court of conspiring to defraud the Minister for Agriculture by placing an animal infected with BSE into a herd with the intention of securing compensation when the cattle were destroyed.
The infected animal was placed in a herd at Kilgariffe, Clonakilty, Co Cork, on September 29th, 1996.
Had the Herd Depopulation Compensation grant been sanctioned, the State would have been defrauded of an estimated £75,000 in compensation for slaughtering the cattle.
Not the first -or the last- to perpetrate this scam, it will continue as long as massive compensation beckons other farmers to enrich themselves with easy money.
No doubth the sentence will be suspended on appeal.
By Ann Cahill, Europe Correspondent (Examiner) Nov 2007
FARMERS, golf clubs, horse riding schools and even railway companies capitalised on changes to the EU’s €50 billion agriculture budget last year.
One Irish farmer handed over his land to his son free of charge in 2005 and he immediately qualified for €125,000 in payments — three times what his father had been eligible for. In the North, a farmer who qualified for €109,000 moved his 600 cattle to a relative’s holding who then qualified for €40,000, the EU court of auditors discovered.
The auditors refused for the 12th year in a row to sign off on the EU’s €105bn budget of which Ireland got €2.3bn — the eighth largest recipient of 25 in 2006. But while spending of the budget’s biggest section, agricultural funds, had improved there were still problems.
The change from paying farmers grants based on the quantities they produced has resulted in problems, the court’s Irish auditor Maire Geoghegan Quinn said. "All kinds of people have been qualifying for money including golf clubs and horse riding schools which I’m sure was never the intention and farmers have been increasing the amount of money they are entitled to by timing the transfer of their holdings between family members," she said.
The report estimates 150,000 Irish entitlements have been affected by what it calls the Department of Agriculture’s irregular methods of calculation and it says 24% of claims for area aid were exaggerated.
The new Single Payments Scheme was intended to stop farmers producing unnecessary goods to qualify for grants. Instead they qualify through either agricultural activities or for keeping the land in good environmental condition. But Ms Geoghegan Quinn said there have been unintended consequences including money being shifted from genuine farmers to landowners who never engage in agricultural activity (including railway companies in Britain and horse riding clubs in Germany).
A spokesperson for the department said its rules for implementing the scheme had been approved by the commission. Last year about 130,000 farmers received €1.2bn, which made up about 80% of Irish farm income.
EUROPE may impose "substantial" fines on Ireland over the way a compensation scheme for farmers is run.
The Comptroller and Auditor General probed the consolidation of single payment entitlements initiative after Brussels chastised the Republic for the way it was operating.
The European Court of Auditors (ECA) said Ireland should not be compensating farmers for lands rented during the reference period for payments, 2000-2002, but now no longer available.
The ECA said farmers should only get the same payments for less land if that land had been subject to a compulsory purchase order.
"Although the Department of Agriculture maintains that it has acted in accordance with the regulations, there appears to be a risk it will be found to have been in contravention of the specific provisions regarding consolidation and that the state will be exposed to substantial financial penalties," the report states.
While Austria, Scotland and Wales were also rapped by the ECA, Ireland faces the biggest penalties if found not to have implemented the €60 million payments correctly.
© Irish Times 23.09.08