Coveney denies college grants rift
Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney: no difficulties in Cabinet on means tests
Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney has denied reports he told Fine Gael TDs that Minister for Education Ruairí Quinn had backed down on plans to include farm assets in the means test for college grants.
Mr Coveney gave a briefing to Fine Gael colleagues on Wednesday and afterwards it was reported he told the committee the plan to include assets in excess of €750,000 in the means test would not go ahead.
“I didn’t say that,” he told The Irish Times. “What I said was that no proposals had come to government yet on this issue but that I had made my views clear to Ruairí Quinn.
“I understand he has a job to do as well in terms of reviewing means testing for third level grants. I have a very good relationship with Ruairí Quinn on this issue but until there is a proposal in front of Cabinet, there is no decision to be made.”
The Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers Association said the proposal was so intrinsically unfair that it could never be seriously considered.
Mr Coveney said the issue had been hyped up but there were no difficulties between ministers on this. “People shouldn’t be getting excited about this issue because there is no decision to be made at the moment.”
Minister for Jobs Richard Bruton today refused to be drawn into the debate on the inclusion of farm and business assets in the means testing process.
Speaking in Limerick today, he said the matter had sparked a "lively debate" but was an issue Government would have to decide on collectively.
“This is a matter that will come in due course before government and government will have to make a decision. There’s obviously discussion, it’s a lively debate but government will have to take a collective decision on this in due course,” he said.
When asked specifically about comments made by Cork TD Tom Barry, who said those calling for farm and business assets to be included in the means test were displaying a lack of knowledge about how farming and business works Minister Bruton replied: "I’m not going to enter into this debate. It’s an issue on which we will have to make a decision. Papers will be brought to Cabinet in the usual way and we will make a decision and the views of people on all sides of the argument will have to be carefully taken into account."