Higgins: put safety at the heart of our farming industry
President Michael D Higgins called for farm safety to be placed at the heart of the country's agriculture industry, as he officially launched the 84th National Ploughing Championships.
Tens of thousands of visitors poured in through the gates from early morning, with more than 1,500 trade stands selling everything from high-end machinery to handmade hurleys throughout the 800-acre site.
As the crowds gathered at the bandstand in Ratheniska, Co Laois, as the ribbon-cutting and blessing ceremony got under way, Mr Higgins described the figures as startling with 11 lives lost so far this year and statistics showing the farmyard is now the most deadly of workplaces.
Mr Higgins said people must reflect on the changing environment on farms which account for 60pc of fatalities.
"This year 11 people to date have lost their lives on Irish farms," he said. "That this figure is four times greater than the second most dangerous occupational sector in the country, construction, is a salutary and sobering reminder of just how hazardous our farms can be."
Mr Higgins said it emphasised the importance of adequate training and precautions but it must be recognised that it is a more "complex task" than most workplaces.
"The vast majority of our farms are required to play a dual role - as a place of work but also as a family home," he said, with five deaths of children on farms last year. "We must resolve to place farm safety at the very heart of our growing agricultural industry."
Macra na Feirme president Sean Finan said work has been under way with young farmers to ensure they take "personal responsibility for their own safety".