Friday, 27 February 2009

Cash queue MLAs

MANY farmers went to extraordinary lengths (some queuing overnight) to get in line for the cash handouts promised by an eager Executive in the pre-Christmas giveaway.

Last week hundreds of farmers across Northern Ireland descended on Department of Agriculture offices for the opportunity to apply for grants to modernise their farms (and as they would have to part fund the developments themselves it wasn’t that generous). However, the £6 million on offer was only available on a ‘first come, first served basis’ with the first 1200 applicants getting the full grant.

Cue pictures of queues, grumbling from an EU official, and a huffing Rev William McCrea implying that Agriculture Minister Michelle Gildernew should hang up her ministerial wellie boots.

All fun and games…until it emerged that there were MLAs who had applied for the grant scheme.

The DUP’s William Irwin and the UUP’s George Savage had entered into the queue lottery for farm cash.

Both were open and honest in the Assembly debate on the issue, and no-one in the chamber dared compare the plight of farmers finding ways to fight off financial ruin through investment with MLA farmers earning £40,000+ for sitting at the Assembly.

Which of course raises the question…did the aforementioned Assembly members queue, use a postal vote/application or have an underling do the queing.

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