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Friday, 7 September, 2001, 12:00 GMT 13:00 UK
Inquiry into sheep subsidy fraud
The department is investigating sheep subsidy fraud
The department is investigating sheep subsidy fraud
Nine cases of alleged sheep subsidy fraud uncovered during foot-and-mouth culls in south Armagh have been referred to the Department of Public Prosecutions.

Investigations are continuing on another eight farms in Northern Ireland which had been claiming subsidies but which, it emerged, did not have any sheep.

The news was conveyed to the assembly's Agriculture Minister Brid Rodgers on Friday.

The department was examining explanations given by 57 farmers on a further 89 premises, she said.

She said those premises had some sheep, but fewer than the number claimed for.

Some farmers had offered explanations
Some farmers had offered explanations

The other 32 had not responded to Department of Agriculture inquiries.

The minister said this suggested that they had accepted the penalties which applied.

Mrs Rodgers said the fraud investigation was continuing and the DPP will have to make a decision whether or not to prosecute in the alleged fraud cases.

Four outbreaks of foot-and-mouth were confirmed in Northern Ireland earlier this year.

In June, the province was given permission to resume the export of meat, dairy products and livestock following the lifting of foot-and-mouth restrictions.

It came after the province's chief veterinary officer Bob McCracken presented the EU committee with clear test results from 3,000 sheep flocks at a meeting in Brussels.

However, Mrs Rodgers urged against complacency in the ongoing fight against foot-and-mouth disease.

See also:

10 May 01 | Northern Ireland
Disease hits NI business confidence
19 Apr 01 | Northern Ireland
Surprise at NI livestock compensation
19 Apr 01 | Northern Ireland
Penalties outlined for moving animals
01 Jun 01 | Northern Ireland
NI foot-and-mouth restrictions lifted
30 Mar 01 | Northern Ireland
Foot-and-mouth disease timeline
05 Mar 01 | Northern Ireland
Imports link to NI disease confirmed
05 Jun 01 | Northern Ireland
NI farm exports to resume
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