East Antrim MP Sammy Wilson has voiced concern about “the rising level of rural crime” and especially the theft of machinery locally.
The DUP man commended the work of the the Rural Crime Partnership, which has launched an initiative to subsidise farmers to attach tracking devices to farm machinery.
The partnership, wgich includes representatives from the Department of Justice, Department of Agriculture & Rural Development, the Police Service and the National Farmers’ Union, has already run a pilot initiative in two Police districts protecting over £1.7 m worth of farm machinery.
This is now to be extended to farmers across Northern Ireland, enabling them to have access to a discount when purchasing a tracker device to be fitted to a tractor.
In the event the tractor is stolen, the signal emitted by the device can be used to trace and recover it.
Mr Wilson said: “I have been urging the authorities to take rural crime more seriously and I believe that this initiative is one way of at least protecting valuable machinery which professional gangs have been targeting over the last number of months in the East Antrim area.”
He added: “I hope that farmers will take up this opportunity and they can find out more about it by contacting the PSNI or the National Farmers’ Union Mutual in safeguarding their own property and also denying the criminal gangs the opportunity of making money from their activities.”
Meanwhile, Sinn Féin Agriculture spokesperson Oliver McMullan has welcomed a new labeling system that will allow for cattle to be traded across the island of Ireland without occurring a penalty.
The East Antrim Assembly member said: ‘The problem arose when cattle reared in the South were brought north for slaughter incurred a penalty of £150 due to labeling issues. These cattle became known as ‘nomad’ and created problems for farming markets and farmers alike.
“I welcome the introduction of new labeling that will allow the transfer of cattle across Ireland without occurring a penalty.”
l Sammy Wilson has welcomed a Royal Mail plan to increase the number of post boxes across the United Kingdom by 2,000 which should mean about 100 more in Northern Ireland.
He said: “I would welcome any suggestions from constituents as to where they believe post boxes are required, especially in the rural areas and I would be more than happy to take the suggestions up with Royal Mail.”
The MP added: “The important criteria is that they will be located in areas where people do not have easy access to existing post boxes.”
He said he has urged Parliament to make sure that the Universal Postal System is maintained as he believes it is under threat.
as a result of some of the privatisation policies the Government is pursuing and as Finance Minister I tried to ensure that local Post Offices were made profitable by having Government services carried out by Post Offices and obviously the provision of post boxes is also an important part of the postal service.