Belfast Telegraph

Budget cuts: 300 face redundancy in Department of Agriculture and Rural Development

By Michelle Smyth

Cuts of £30m to the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development's annual budget will mean 300 redundancies.

DARD and most other departments - excluding Health - will suffer financially because Westminster is reducing the grant it's giving to Northern Ireland.

One-tenth of the DARD workforce is to be made redundant.

Minister Michelle O'Neill said plans to move DARD headquarters to Ballykelly in 2017 would not be affected by the cuts.

She added that more money was to be spent on funding farmers in difficult areas as well as tackling issues affecting rural areas such as poverty and isolation.

The minister added that more employement needed to be generated in agriculture and good processing.

Ms O'Neill said there will be staff cuts at all three Colleges of Agriculture, Food and Rural Enterprise but they will remain open.

Kieran Bannon from trade union NIPSA said yesterday the announcement was a surprise and people were not being kept informed.

"We pressed for information last week and now she comes out with this announcement," he said.

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