Michael Fitzmaurice TD has described as “actually laughable” the suggestion that farmers will require a Public Service card when applying for EU grants from next year.
The Galway-Roscommon Independent TD is the latest in a line of TDs and senators who have criticised the government’s decision to roll out the new ID card.
“A farmer can’t be a farmer if they do not have land and herd/ flock number so it’s hard to see how the new card is needed as you get paid on the land you have and if there’s a double claim it’s picked up straight away.
“This new ID card is being introduced in connection with online applications and Minister Creed and the Government are showing no regard for elderly people some of whom never opened a computer in their lives and always farmed their land quietly and effectively,” Michael Fitzmaurice said.
He stated that the Minister and the Department are trying to “force everybody into dealing online” but points out that adequate broadband is lacking in many rural areas and that many farmers are without even a phone line.
“I’m writing to Europe today to see are they going to be that heartless to force elderly farmers especially those who don’t own a computer or have any broadband service to have to either travel long distances to get their applications in or maybe it will force them out of applying for grants altogether and I feel the latter would suit the Government and Brussels.
“Farming organisations need to wake up now and stand up for the farmers they represent and take on this Government and the bureaucrats in Brussels. If they stand back and do nothing this will happen gradually. The Department should be able to cater with 20% paper applications which is the trend at the moment. Surely that is not too much to ask,” he added.