20th JUNE 2019 - Page 11



FARM WEEK
NEWS
T
HE British Association for
Shooting and Conservation
has met with Kieran Donnelly,
Northern Ireland Auditor General,
to alert him to delays in the firearm
licensing process.
The meeting, arranged by Patsy
McGlone MLA, follows complaints
from BASC and trade members about
protracted delays in processing
applications which impact on the
livelihoods of many firearms dealers.
Mr Donnelly is responsible for
the external auditing of central
government bodies, which can
include a value for money audit.
BASC
NI
Director
Tommy
NOVEMBER 09 2017
11
BASC alerts NI Auditor General to licensing delays
Mayne said: “The meeting was
constructive and we are grateful
for the opportunity to meet Mr
Donnelly to share the frustrations of
our members, who are now paying
almost double the money for half the
service.
“We discussed the Police Service
of Northern Ireland’s (PSNI) failure
to consult, despite their statutory
obligation, on their intention to
remove the paper firearms licensing
application system and current
backlogs, believed to be in excess of
Volunteering Small
Grant cut criticised
GRAVE disappointment has been expressed at a
decision to cut the Volunteering Small Grant to
community organisations.
West Tyrone MLA Declan McAleer said the fund
provided by the Department for Communities was
“a vital source of support” for rural and isolated
groups.
He commented: “The Volunteering Small Grant
is a fund that community groups receive annually
for expenses such as training and running costs.
It is a relatively small pot of money but is a vital
source of support, particularly for isolated rural
groups and for incentivising volunteers who carry
out vital work in their communities.
“On foot of a number of groups contacting
me, I wrote to the Permanent Secretary of the
Department for Communities in early October. The
response stated that Volunteering Small Grant
funding was allocated on a year-to-year basis
and consequently a call for applications was not
issued.
“This is a poor decision which will have a
detrimental impact on the provision of local
services and Sinn Féin will continue to press
the Department for Communities to get this vital
programme re-opened.”
4,000 applications.
“We also spoke about the PSNI’s
failure to publish processing
times despite promises to the NI
Assembly’s Committee for Justice
during evidence sessions prior to
the increase in firearms licensing
fees.
“BASC has recently asked the
PSNI’s Firearms and Explosives
Branch to provide statistics in
relation to processing times.
However, they have, so far, not done
so.”
Mr McGlone, chair of the NI
Assembly’s All Party Group on
Country Sports, said: “The PSNI
are now getting double the money
for the service they provide to
certificate holders and they must
meet certain standards in relation
to that service.
“Those
standards
include
openness, fairness, objectivity,
transparency, accountability and,
most importantly, value for money.
“As a result of our meeting, Mr
Donnelly has asked me to register his
interest with the PSNI. Mr Donnelly
also stated that he will register his
interest with his own audit team.
“I am confident that as a result of
our efforts, Mr Donnelly will use
his influence to reduce processing
times and ensure service levels are
improved.”
BASC will continue to work with
partner organisations and elected
representatives to ensure the PSNI is
accountable and that the NI firearms
licensing system provides value for
money.
Lord Donald Curry keynote speaker at lecture
T
HE Curry Report “Farming and Food
– A Sustainable Future,” published in
January 2002, set out a clear direction
for agricultural policy in the United Kingdom
over the past 15 years.
The report was produced by the Policy
Commission on the Future of Farming and
Food under Lord Curry’s chairmanship.
As keynote speaker for the 2017 George
Scott Robertson Memorial Lecture, Lord
Donald Curry of Kirkharle will reflect on the
original report and its recommendations. He
will also outline his vision for the agri-food
industry in the UK over the next decade and
highlight opportunities for the Northern
Ireland agri-food industry.
Lord Curry is a Northumberland farmer
who was knighted in 2011 and has been
Chairman of the Meat and Livestock
Commission and NFU Mutual. He became a
crossbench life peer in 2011 and has been
Chairman of the Prince’s Countryside Fund
charity since 2015. Lord Curry has made an
outstanding contribution to British farming
and is renowned for his ability to find
solutions to complex problems.
LEFT: The
Organising
Committee of
the 2017 George
Scott Robertson
Memorial Lecture,
Chris Armour
(AFBI), James
McCluggage (UFU),
Joyce Watterson
(QUB), Lisa-Jane
McIlveen (DAERA),
and Sinclair Mayne
(AFBI CEO).
The George Scott Robertson Memorial
Lecture, hosted by the Agri-Food and
Biosciences Institute (AFBI) in association
with Queen’s University Belfast (QUB),
the Ulster Farmers Union (UFU) and the
Department of Agriculture, Environment
and Rural Affairs (DAERA) was initiated in
1951 to perpetuate the memory of Dr George
Scott Robertson who played a prominent
part in promoting agricultural progress in
Northern Ireland from 1921-1948.
This year’s lecture will be held in the
Riddel Hall, Queen’s University, Stranmillis
Road, Belfast on Thursday, November 16,
with light refreshments from 5.30pm and
formal proceedings from 6.30-8pm.
Admission is free, but advance booking
is required – visit the AFBI website www.
afbini.gov.uk or telephone 028 9025 5636 for
more information.

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