Irwin issues ongoing issues with NIFAIS

​Newry & Armagh DUP Assemblyman William Irwin MLA has said issues with the new Northern Ireland Food Animal Information System (NIFAIS) threaten to derail progress made in replacing the old Animal and Public Health Information System (APHIS).
Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now

Mr Irwin has been contacted by a number of farmers who have relayed to him the issues they have had with the new system and he said as customers of DAERA, farmers should expect a service fit for purpose.

Mr Irwin said he has spoken to staff at “various levels” within the Department and he understands that staff are experiencing real issues with the multimillion-pound system. He believes there is an important onus on the Department to “weed out” the technical glitches and ensure the system operates at full capacity.

Mr Irwin said: “This is far below expectations, especially when weighed against the very significant multimillion-pound outlay to create this online system in the first instance. I am actually shocked by the inadequacy and faults in this system and the fact that farmers are telling me of various situations whereby this service, with it’s issues, is currently putting additional burdens on their business. These very clear glitches in the system must be urgently tackled and weeded out by technicians to ensure the system operates as it should do.”

DUP MLA William Irwin is raising concerns around the new NIFAIS system.DUP MLA William Irwin is raising concerns around the new NIFAIS system.
DUP MLA William Irwin is raising concerns around the new NIFAIS system.

He added: “I have made a point of speaking with DAERA staff at various levels and they too have concerns and are frustrated with the system. The faults in the system seem to be widespread which is a real issue and one which should focus minds on solutions that will ensure, when farmers enter information, it filters all the way through. There is no doubt the technical issues are having impacts on trade, adding costs to business and increasing general frustration amongst farmers.”

He concluded: “If these issues are left unresolved then concerns will only increase, as will the frustration of farmers who are doing everything they should from their end. Both my colleague Edwin Poots MLA and I have requested a meeting with the DAERA Permanent Secretary to discuss the ramifications of this issue. Farmers need certainty the system is fit for purpose and reassurance from DAERA that these issues will be resolved immediately.”

​In response a DAERA spokesperson confirmed that officials hope to meet Mr Irwin to discuss his concerns.

The spokesperson continued: “The Northern Ireland Food Animal Information System (NIFAIS) launched for cattle functionality on 4 September 2023. The switchover of this functionality, from APHIS, was a complex task and raised a number of issues for users of the new system. These issues have been gradually worked through by a dedicated team of DAERA staff and the NIFAIS IT Supplier, Capita PLC.

“DAERA would like to thank all users for their patience since NIFAIS went live. There will be continual updates to this version of NIFAIS before the next significant change in early 2025 when other farmed animal species will be added, and the old APHIS system switched off.

“Any queries regarding access to NIFAIS, or other issues, should be directed to your local DAERA Direct Office in the first instance.”