Thursday, 4 May 1972
Dáil Eireann Debate
Mr. Governey: asked the Minister for Lands if he will state in relation to the scheme providing retirement pensions for landholders who transfer their property the total number of applications received from the inception of the scheme to 31st March, 1972.
Mr. Governey: Would the Minister not agree that that number falls very short of what may have been expected by the Department when the scheme was being introduced? Can he say if this is due to the fact that the retirement pension is very small and also that his Department did not give sufficient publicity to the scheme at the outset?
Mr. S. Flanagan: The overall result has been very disappointing. The level of the pension is only one of the factors involved. Perhaps it was lower than it should have been. The other factor was the continuing very strong desire of people and, particularly elderly people, to retain their land.
Mr. S. Flanagan: The EEC have published a draft of their proposal but, as the Deputy knows, discussions are continuing between our representatives and the EEC representatives in an effort to work out a scheme that will be acceptable both to them and to us in regard to this country.
Mr. S. Flanagan: Let us be clear about this. I must not allow Deputy Tully to mislead the House. The details of the scheme as they will operate, should Ireland join the EEC, have not yet been finalised so far as this country is concerned. Deputy Tully must not be allowed to mislead the public into thinking that the scheme is finally accepted in respect of this country.
Mr. Tully: Is the Minister trying to tell the House that there will be a separate and special pension scheme arranged for Irish farmers as distinct from that which is applicable to farmers in the other EEC countries? He must know that is not correct. It is he who is trying to mislead the House.
Mr. S. Flanagan: It may be a separate question but it is much too important a matter on which to allow Deputy Tully to mislead the House. This scheme will have to vary at least in some details in so far as this country is concerned by comparison with the way in which it operates in existing EEC countries. I am not suggesting that Deputy Tully is trying  deliberately to mislead the House but I am telling him and the House that the scheme has not been finalised yet. The broad details are there but the final details are not settled yet. We know enough about it to be able to tell the Irish farmer roughly what way this scheme will operate but there will have to be differences between the way it operates in Europe and the way it operates here.
Mr. S. Flanagan: That is a fair question. I think the best answer I can give the Deputy is to say that a reexamination of the entire situation in regard to the land structural programme is going on at present. I would not like to make assumptions because the referendum is next week, but should the Irish people decide to go into the EEC the results of our deliberations in regard to the whole land structural programme and the agricultural programme generally will be speeded up and the results will certainly include careful consideration of a revamping of this pension scheme.
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