Monday, 13 September 2010

Some double talk even makes sense half the time

THERE is a curious sort of malaise creeping into Northern Ireland politics: it is doubletalk that kind of makes sense. It’s the sort of speeches that confound the listener and the reader so much that they are forced to think deeply about what is being said.

The prime example comes this week from the Minister for flooded farms...sorry Minister for Agriculture, Michelle Gildernew.

Announcing almost £5m for a scheme to take pictures of farmland from the air, Ms Gildernew pointed the finger firmly and unerringly at the bureaucrats in Brussels. These faceless types had been so audacious to fine Northern Ireland (actually it’s a disallowance, but semantics were never the strong suit of our politicians) for EU subsidy overpayments to farmers.

Put in simple terms: the vast majority of Northern Ireland’s farmers are decent hard-working sorts. There are others who are hard-working chancers.

As a result a highly detailed map of farmland is to be created from the aerial photographs – Uncle Hugo Duncan’s sat-nav system having been deemed not to be sufficiently accurate.

Ms Gildernew has said that it is all rather unfair for the EU not to pay up in such hard economic times.

But let us drill through that argument for a moment. Would it be okay for the EU to penalise us if economically we were a stable and growing economy? Is it unfair for agriculture to take a hit for what appears to be a blatant attempt to con money out of Europe?

The Minister’s stance appears to be that we would not have had to spend £4.8m mapping farms if it wasn’t for some of these European types being downright nasty to us.

One wonders if it ever occurs to her that if the Department of Agriculture had been better at tracking the chancers then the situation would never have occurred...

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