RHI Inquiry: To get public funds, farmers needed a Moy Park contract

Invest NI chief executive Alastair Hamilton
Invest NI chief executive Alastair Hamilton

The RHI inquiry has heard how farmers needed to have a contract with Northern Ireland’s monopoly poultry processor, Moy Park, in order to get public funds from a Stormont loan scheme.

In his written evidence to the inquiry, Invest NI chief executive Alastair Hamilton set out some of the huge sums of money it had made available to Moy Park.

Mr Hamilton said that Stormont had agreed to provide £35m of public money to the poultry industry in an attempt to ensure “rapid investment in this sector”.

However, ultimately banks were willing to lend more than expected, so not all of this money was lent.

In reality, though, ‘the poultry industry’ seemed to be synonymous with Moy Park.

His evidence showed that in order to access the public funding, individual farmers had to have a contract with Moy Park.

One of the criteria for accessing the funding was “Confirmation of the contractual agreement between the applicant and Moy Park”.

Mr Hamilton said: “Moy Park is the major processor of poultry in Northern Ireland, accounting for approximately 95% of the poultry processing industry in NI.”

Mr Hamilton also set out how Invest NI then provided Moy Park with more public money under a separate funding stream which saw it offered £9.5 million “to support job creation and capital growth”.

Mr Hamilton, a former special adviser (Spad) to Ian Paisley when he was First Minister, also defended the principle of having Spads.

Having come into the role from a 25-year career in BT, he said that he was “a very strong supporter of the role... when it is executed as it should be executed”.

He said he was not involved with any political party and he was recruited as an expert, rather than a party loyalist.

RHI Inquiry: Ex-boss of poultry giant Moy Park admits it financially benefited from RHI