IFA head rejects grants criticism

Thu, Aug 23, 2012, 01:00

THE LABOUR Party chairman has refused to back down in his criticism of the college grants system despite claims from IFA president John Bryan that he has made “false and inflammatory” about eligibility for grants.

The debate on the reform of the grants system has been marred by claims that farmers could write off capital investments against income, according to the farmers’ representative.

Mr Bryan said there was an obligation on Colm Keaveney to publicly acknowledge that the system of third-level grants expressly stated that farmers could not use capital allowances or other investments in plant and machinery to reduce their income for grant eligibility purposes.

“I am calling on Deputy Keaveney to withdraw the false statements he has made on this issue and to accept the fact that in calculating reckonable income for grant purposes, farmers cannot make any deductions for capital expenditure.”

He added that Mr Keaveney’s statements were clearly wrong and had done a major disservice, not just to farmers but to the public who were entitled to expect accuracy in debate from their public representatives.

“Deputy Keaveney’s false claims about the current grant system are inflammatory and his throwaway remarks about spending a quarter of a million on a harvester inevitably give rise to an urban/rural divide.

“His efforts to divide farmers on this issue are equally disgraceful,” Mr Bryan added, in reference to an interview the TD gave to the Sunday Business Post.

However, speaking to The Irish Times yesterday, Mr Keaveney refused to withdraw his claim that some in the self-employed sector had manipulated their incomes for the purpose of applying for the grant.

He accepted that the regulations did not allow for the writing off of capital investment against income but he insisted that in practice, the application process allowed this to happen.