Fianna Fáil General Election candidate for Galway East Cllr Anne Rabbitte says more than 150 farmers in the county are still waiting for their applications to be processed under the Rural Social Scheme. She’s calling on the Department of Social Protection to intervene and ensure that these backlogs are addressed as a matter of priority.
She said that there are at least 156 cases that she is aware of whereby farmers have applied for payments under the Rural Social Scheme but have been left in limbo.
“These farmers have already qualified for Farm Assist and are therefore should be entitled to payments under the Rural Social Scheme, but huge backlogs are holding up the system.
“The Rural Social Scheme provides huge benefits for communities across Galway. Farmers are paid for a range of work that they carry out, which improves their localities. People on the scheme carry out essential maintenance and upgrade works in towns and villages across the county,” she said adding that everything from maintaining the local sports grounds, painting fencing and railings, community care projects and administrative and clerical work is covered by the scheme. It’s a two-way system because it provides vital services to rural communities at a very economic cost and is an essential part of community life, particularly in rural Ireland.
Cllr Rabbitte said that these waiting lists are a major source of frustration for farmers.
“The fact of the matter is there needs to be more places on the scheme. In our Agriculture document, Fianna Fáil has committed to doubling the number places on RSS to 5,000 on a phased basis, as well as restoring the original payment rules.
“Here in Galway we need to see a minimum of seven supervisors and seven additional schemes rolled out in the short term to cope with demand. This is a valuable scheme that has community at its heart, and which should be used to its full potential. This short-sighted Government cannot be allowed to dilute this programme any further. It needs to be protected and expanded as it provides important financial and civic benefits for every community,” she concluded.