New scheme to protect farmers if hikers injured on their land
Farmers and landowners will be protected in the event of walkers and tourists falling or getting injured on the country's most popular walks and trails.
The Government is moving to urgently introduce a new national indemnity scheme after a high profile court case saw farmers consider shutting their gates to hillwalkers.
Two pilots of a protective scheme are currently in operation on popular walks in different locations. Successful running of the programme will lead to a new national indemnity scheme being rolled out before the end of the year, officials at the Department of Rural Affairs have told hillwalking associations.
It means the State will take up the worry of allowing walkers to access trails through farmers' lands in upland areas such as the McGillycuddy Reeks, Croagh Patrick and the Wicklow Way.
It follows a landmark court decision in favour of a walker who fell in the Wicklow Way.
Farmers warned the judgement could result in them preventing hillwalkers from accessing their lands in some of Ireland's most scenic areas.
They had also previously called for indemnity to lie solely with hillwalkers amid concerns that they would be made liable in the case of serious injury.
Costs of running such a case were of huge concern to the Irish Farmers' Association.