Kevin Myers: Scourge of ragwort confirms mass-defection by our state agencies from the rule of law
Ragwort is now our primary crop. Its growth paralleled the emergence of the term 'site' to describe a field
July is coming to an end, and thus it is time for my single transferable column on ragwort. If you want to know the power of the media, then go through the newspaper archives for my opinions on ragwort, the first of which I seem to have written during the Penal Laws. Back then, there were but a few of these evil weeds around the place; but over the years, the more I condemned the presence of ragwort in our fields, the more serious the problem became. Every column seemed to be a spur to fresh government departments, to farmers, to local councils, and most of all, to the National Roads Authority to enter into a furious ragwort-cultivation competition.
Ragwort is now our primary crop. Its growth across the countryside paralleled the emergence of the term 'site' to describe a field. Even though the housing boom is as dead as the Middle Ages, roadside grasslands remain 'sites'. The twin phenomenon of site-cultivation and the national ragwort-harvest signalled the final divorce between a great many people who lived in the countryside, and the fields around them. Vast swathes of rural landscape became merely suburbs without the houses. De-ruralised farmers ceased to cultivate their land, and instead began cultivating councillors to get planning permissions; and idle land in this climate in July yields one enormous harvest. Ragwort.