Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 29 July 2015

DARD not like police force: O’Neill

By Noel McAdam

Published 02/11/2011 | 00:00

Michelle O'Neill
Michelle O'Neill

Agriculture Minister Michelle O’Neill has clashed with the head of an Assembly scrutiny committee over claims the industry views her department “like a police force”.

The DUP’s Paul Frew told the minister many involved in the agri-food sector feel they are struggling “with hands tied behind their backs”.

But the Sinn Fein minister denied the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD) has “handcuffed” the |industry — while claiming “no one will ever by fully satisfied” by its efforts.

The exchange came during a discussion on the Assembly Agriculture Committee on closer links with the Republic to maximise marketing potential in global markets.

Committee chairman, Mr Frew, said: “The industry tells me that it feels that we are almost at the point at which DARD is more of a police force than a support mechanism and that, at times, it feels that its hands are handcuffed behind its back.”

But Ms O’Neill hit back: “I don’t think you can say that. DARD is putting the £500m for the rural development programme into rural communities.

“We also do work with skills and innovation, research and development and the education colleges. That is positive stuff. I do not think that you can say that any of that is handcuffing anybody.”

Your Comments

COMMENT RULES: Comments that are judged to be defamatory, abusive or in bad taste are not acceptable and contributors who consistently fall below certain criteria will be permanently blacklisted. The moderator will not enter into debate with individual contributors and the moderator’s decision is final. It is Belfast Telegraph policy to close comments on court cases, tribunals and active legal investigations. We may also close comments on articles which are being targeted for abuse. Problems with commenting?

Read More

From Belfast Telegraph