By CAROL BYRNE
A REVISIT to the budget estimate by Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney has resulted in an unexpected financial fillip for the East Clare-based charity, Irish Seed Savers Association.
“We have revised the estimate for Seed Savers and we have upped their budget by 15%. There are very few examples in my budget where I have made a decision to increase any budget by that amount,” said Minister Coveney.
He was responding to a question posed by Clare Deputy Michael McNamara who had asked him to consider providing a multi annual funding approach for the East Clare based charity.
Deputy McNamara said while he was grateful to the minister for the increased funding, which is subject to EU approval and for the interest he had shown in the organisation, “a large part of the difficulty they encounter is not just because of a reduction in funding”.
“It is also because there is a reduction in sales, which they rely on for funding and membership, as people seek to reduce expenditure. They perform a vital national function in maintaining the biodiversity and diversity of plants that are native to this state. I wonder if you would look at a multi annual funding approach,” he said.
Minister Coveney said that the increased funding had been decided “virtually overnight”. The decision was made “because it was something I think we overlooked in the budget debates” and because it was something Deputy McNamara had raised with him.
“That is what we have done. I think it is the right thing to do. It is an important organisation and they have to find ways in which they can help themselves too. We can‘t have a situation where we are paying for everything,” he concluded.