A pensioner has been denied a farm safety grant for a quad helmet by the Department of Agriculture because he paid for it in cash.

Christy O’Neill, a 78-year-old sheep and suckler farmer from mid-Kerry, applied for the grant under the National Farm Safety Measure 2023.

This allows farmers to recoup 60% of the cost of quad helmets and PTO shaft covers, in an effort to promote farm safety.

“I was delighted when I saw they were going to give me a 60% grant. I go through a bit of a rough patch to check the sheep,” O’Neill said.

He also claimed for a PTO shaft cover under the measure, which was paid for electronically. Some €150 in cash was paid for the helmet, which O’Neill said was withdrawn from his pension.

Prepayment inspection

O’Neill was subsequently selected for prepayment inspection. Two Department of Agriculture inspectors came to his farm, where he showed them a cash receipt for the helmet.

Two weeks later he received a letter saying that the helmet was ineligible under the Farm Safety Measure due to the cash payment.

It was very disappointing to be refused the grant, O’Neill said, especially when he was trying to improve farm safety.

“If you have a receipt, you should be paid for it. It should be enough,” he said.

Question to minister

Responding to a parliamentary question from Deputy Brendan Griffin on this specific case, Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue confirmed that cash payments do not qualify for the measure.

“In line with other Department schemes such as TAMS, condition six (j) states that ‘cash payments are ineligible’. Applicants are required to provide evidence of payment in addition to a receipt,” he said.