Sinn Féin MLA, Declan McAleer claims that the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) is holding farmers in Northern Ireland to ransom.

At the heart of the matter is the party’s refusal to re-enter the Stormont Executive.

The Sinn Féin representative believes this is the only way that a £70 million support package for farmers can be unlocked.

“I attended the Balmoral Show last week and engaged with hundreds of farmers during the three days that I was there,” McAleer said.

“It is clear that farmers are caught in the middle of a storm with the spiralling cost of fuel, fertiliser and feed in the midst of Brexit with the uncertainty this will bring for future funding.

“It is therefore reprehensible that the DUP is holding farmers to ransom by refusing to form an Executive and get much needed support out to hard-pressed farmers,” he added. 

“Most farmers I met broadly welcome the announcement that the Single Farm Payment will be issued earlier this year, however this will also lead to a longer winter particularly if the DUP continue to drag their heels in getting the Executive up and running,” McAleer said.

Sinn Fein support for funding

According to McAleer, the north’s agriculture minister, Edwin Poots, has made a bid for £70 million to help the agri-food sector in the short-term.   

“Sinn Féin supports this bid but the funding remains locked until an Executive is put in place,”the West Tyrone MLA stated.

“The DUP portray themselves as a party which supports farmers.

“Now is the time for them to step up to the plate and get back round the Executive table with the other parties and get this much needed support to farmers without further delay”.