IFA national hill committee chairman, Flor McCarthy, has expressed concerns about some recreational users not abiding by the Countryside Code during the recent spell of good weather.
In doing so, the group has raised concerns over insurance indemnification.
“IFA is, and always has been, in favour of recreational walking, but the farmer can’t carry a financial risk from this activity.”
“The insurance/indemnity issue is ongoing for farmers. Details of a pilot insurance policy have been discussed. However, currently, nothing is in place to provide farmers with indemnification.”
The farm group called on the Minister for Rural and Community Development, Heather Humphreys, to implement the proposed pilot insurance policy without delay.
“We have always supported the process, but we feel the progress is far too slow at this stage”.
Abide by Countryside Code
McCarthy said it is encouraging that people are getting out on hills and exercising on the various dedicated trails.
However, the farm group reminds hillwalkers that they must respect farmers’ property and abide by the Comhairle na Tuaithe Countryside Code.
“This includes a stipulation that dogs cannot be taken onto trails whether they are on a lead or not.”
While most people observe the code, some blatantly disregard it.
“It has also come to IFA’s attention that dogs are wandering off Coillte and National Parks trails onto private land.”
The IFA national hill committee said that people are welcome to use the dedicated and agreed walks throughout the country.
“However, they must observe the rules, including the exclusion of dogs.”
McCarthy added that the commitment in the Programme for Government to expand the Walks Scheme to 80 trails was welcome.
“But no progress has been made to date. The minister must ensure this expansion of the walks scheme progresses at once.”
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