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MP presses Minister on hardship scheme for farmers

WEST Tyrone MP Órfhlaith Begley has called on Stormont Agriculture Minister Edwin Poots to provide ministerial direction for a hardship scheme to be created by his department for farmers in the Glenelly Valley who were affected by severe flooding two-and-a-half years ago.

After meeting with Mr Poots at Stormont on Tuesday afternoon, the Sinn Féin representative said, “I have urged him to take immediate steps to create a hardship scheme to assist Glenelly Valley farmers who lost livestock and had acres of land submerged in a deluge of silt and rubble in the severe floods of August 2017.

“People in the area have had to carry out extensive restoration works and have personally had to pick up a lot of the cost themselves. The response so far from DAERA to help in the recovery process has been inadequate and extremely frustrating.”

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The West Tyrone MP said that the bill to restore land to agricultural use had been “significant” for each farm.

She said, “Unfortunately, those hard-working individuals feel that they have been abandoned.
“The scale of this incident was unprecedented. Hardship schemes have previously been initiated were there has been major incidents.

“For example the hardship scheme commissioned by Michelle O’Neill when she was agriculture minister in 2013 when there was severe snow blizzards.

“We need to see the same level of assistance that has been provided in other instances where livelihoods have been jeopardised by major incidents such as the recent Primark fire in Belfast.

“I met with Mr Poots to call on him to provide the necessary Ministerial direction urgently to ensure that funding is made available to help farmers in the Glenelly Valley recover from the devastation that was caused by these floods.”

Ms Begley added, “Minister Poots stated that he understood the unique situation and he is now going to give full consideration to providing financial assistance.”

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