Thursday, October 27, 2005

These boots are made for trespassing

In Wednesdays Irish Times there was a quiet a snotty letter from a Michael O’Carroll who is a member of Keep Ireland Open. He was complaining that the Irish Times Tourism supplement did not give walking tourism proper coverage. He then also went on about how Dublin walkers were going walking in Wales rather then the west of Ireland. Now being from the country I don’t like the condescending way that city people (mainly Dublin ) look at people from the rest of the country. They call us culchies and still expect that they should be allowed to walk willy nilly around peoples land and be greeted enthusiastically as if they are doing some great service to us and we should honour them. Some move to the countryside for the quality of life and then complain that the local framer is spreading slurry on his field. How dare they complain if you want to live in the country you live a country life. You don’t complain to the council for having street lights on at night in your windows so don’t complain about country smells. Now back to the right to roam issue. The reason that a farmer doesn’t want you on his farm is not due to spite. There are a number of reasons. 1. Insurance: Farmers fear that if some one falls on there land they will be sued. 2 Gates: Walkers leave gates over. 3 Costs: If farmers have to keep pathways open stiles and paths will have to be maintained 4. Crops Walkers damage crops. 5. Danger to the walker. River banks are still public land and you have a right to walk it. The right of way arguments come when people want to walk random fields and up mountains. If you are on private lands you are trespassing. Now the reason for the reasons I’ll expand upon. Many people consider people from the country as not been street-wise. Well many people from the cities are not country-wise. They have watched Gleanroe and feel they know it all. These are the kind of people who cannot tell a bull from a cow. They but wellies on and walk into a field to connect to their inner Miley. Suddenly they find a ton of beef charging them. Many people would say that the farmer should have it corralled. But he has it is in a field the walkers has just jumped into the corral. Other people say they should have signs up warning of the presents of a bull. In someone’s house with kids you could trip over a bike in the yard. Do you see signs saying “Beware of Kids Toys.” No they are private residents as the fields are private property. Crops are the livelihood of many farmers. When walkers walk across fields they often trample down crops. Not only is this highly inconsiderate this directly effects the farmers income. Cost if farmers have to maintain paths and stiles then this requires money not only to pay for materials to do this but also the time lost doing this could be spent on real farming tasks. But also farmers are farmers because they like it. They are not maintenance technicians. Even if the government gave them grants to maintain these things. Why should they be force to do another job? Could you imagine a judge been forced to clean the court room. I certainly can’t. Sometime walkers leave gates open and animals walk off. And mix with other herds. This has many consequences. Animals can escape and go into neighbours gardens causing damage to there houses and grounds. With many non-country people in the country now and the compensation culture this will lead farmers to being sued. Also animals can get onto roads which can lead to deaths. Only recently a loose animal resulted in the death of a man. Possible the biggest reason is that if people fall on land farmers fear that they will be sued. This is in fact possible also the least of a true worry due to the various acts past. Recent court decisions mean that the farmer has to be guilty of reckless abandon which means that the farmer would have to do something equivalent to planting bear traps to be found guilty. But the farmers still has the fear of going to court taking time out of there life and enduring the cost. Most people try to avoid jury service as it interrupts their lives. People need to realise farmers are people to and like to avoid court where possible. In his letter Michael Carroll said that if farmers could look beyond their noses they could invest in agri-tourism and have a money spinner. Well judges could have a money spinner cleaning court rooms. Doesn’t mean that they should have to. In these go-go busy hectic “insert buzz word here” world. Access to the countryside is desirable. People think they have a right to roam. But forget that with every right there is a responsibility. Many don’t live up to their responsibilities. They also seem to forget that the farmer too has rights. He too has responsibilities to his family to himself and to his animals these responsibilities have to come before the responsibilities to take care of some day tripping city folk discovering their inner Miley Byrne.


Fence said...

You've made some interesting points there, but as someone who grew up (for the most part) in the country I do think that we should have the right to walk across fields.

Obviously closing gates and not causing any damage would be an important part of that. I do not think that farmers should have to keep any walkways/tracks clear though. If people decide to walk through fields let them, doesn't mean anyone has to prepare the way for them.

As for the whole suing issue, I wonder would putting up a sign to the effect "if you enter this field all risks are yours" have any legal weight?

Yes, farmers have the right to earn a living from their land, but lets not forget all the grants they get from the rest of us.

Tuathal said...

"As for the whole suing issue, I wonder would putting up a sign to the effect "if you enter this field all risks are yours" have any legal weight?"

Would depend on the visibility of such a sign. The countryside is a big place so farmers would have to erect them all over the place, which just isn't practical.

Simon said...

I would have have no problam with it if people were responsible but they othen are not. Its like handguns. If people were responsible with handguns then they should be allowed to have them. But as some ould not be. We ban hand guns.

sliabh said...

the suing thing is bs. the MCI worked with the IFA/ICA and got legislation passed that changed the duty of care provisions in Irish law. As a result no farmer has ever been successfully sued. The one case that came up (in Donegal) was thrown out in the Supreme court.

4 - damage to crops and 5 - danger to the walker are nonsense as well. The only danger to Irish walkers is shotgun totting farmers (though there has been no incidents of anyone getting harmed either). And pretty much all walking is done in uplands where the only agriculture is sheep farming. If we had a full right to roam (like pretty much every other country in Europe) walkers would never do as much damage to the uplands as sheep farmers have.

The real issue is bloody mindedness "It's my land so no bugger is allowed on it". And a belief by farmers that they can use this issue to get money (as the €5/metre suggestion shows).

We need to have the same access rights as our European neighbours have. And if the farmers representatives don't start to play ball then soon the people that pay for them to remain on their land (the urban taxpayers) will end up all moving to the Keep Ireland Open camp.

Simon said...

Many urban people are extremly ignorant of country life a friend of mine from a major town question me and a friend of mine when we were taking about hunting cattle. His reponse was arn't they very slow targets.

many people have been charged by bulls so that is a valid point. also people do damage crops it has happened many a time in my local area.

Also why do we need the same access rights as our European neighbours have?. Walking across land is not a need it is a want.