IFA National Hill Farming Chairman Caillin Conneely has called for greater safeguards for landowners after a Wicklow farmer was physically assaulted along the popular Glenmalure Zig-Zag Walking Trail.
The incident arose when walkers insisted that dogs be allowed access on the route.
“Farmer intimidation is more common than might be assumed. This was at the extreme end, but there are some recreational users who simply dismiss the farmers wishes and do what they want. It’s totally unacceptable,” he said.
“Thousands of people engage in walking and other recreational activities in the countryside every week and they do the right thing, but this is concerning, particularly during the lambing season,” he said.
“Those who enter onto privately-owned land, for the purpose of recreation, do so because of the goodwill and tolerance of landowner. There needs to be greater awareness of this fact, and we need greater enforcement of the ‘No Dogs Allowed’ policy. Otherwise, landowners will simply withdraw access and everyone loses out,” he said.
“Only recently, we welcomed the announcement of 70 new trails on the Walks Scheme, something that has the potential to boost recreational activity; enhance rural tourism and support farmers who provide access to their land. We have engaged with the Department of Rural and Community Development, Comhairle na Tuaithe, and others in the past on this issue, and we will certainly be raising it again in future meetings,” he said.