Farmer with dyslexia who was fined by Dep't of Agriculture brings equality case to EU authorities

Ned Deering on his farm in Rathvilly, Co Carlow. Photo: Roger Jones
Ned Deering on his farm in Rathvilly, Co Carlow. Photo: Roger Jones
Ciaran Moran

Ciaran Moran

A Carlow farmer who has dyslexia has brought his fight for equality to European Union authorities.

Rathvilly farmer Ned Deering has had his case accepted by the European Parliament committee of petitions.

Ned has a disability not allowing him to correctly understand and interpret information until presentation of this information is modified to meet the needs of persons with such disabilities.

Due to his disability, Ned was not able to adequately understand information on farming regulations and received a fine for violation of these regulations from the Irish Department of Agriculture.

Read more: ‘I couldn’t follow the course work, so I had teeth pulled one day to avoid school’ - Farmer on being dyslexic at school

He claims that the Department of Agriculture put in place information which is not adequate to ensure ease of access and understanding of complex requirements for persons with learning disabilities.

The Carlow man said he has exhausted the possibilities on national level to get accessible information from the Department of Agriculture to meet needs of farmers with learning disabilities.

He considers that his rights to equal treatment, access to information and non-discrimination were violated.

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Ned was diagnosed with dyslexia in his 50s and has been a strong campaigner for improved access and information for those with learning disabilities after he retired from farming.

Speaking to KCLR radio this week, he said he got out of farming for heath reasons and stressed that there are still people out there with the condition struggling with farming.

Ned previously told the Farming Independent that he has been coping with dyslexia all his life - he said he just didn't know it. It wasn't until six years ago, at the age of 58, that the then tillage farmer and cattle haulier was diagnosed with a severe form of the learning disability.

Now, the Carlow man has become a strong campaigner for improved access and information for those with learning disabilities after he retired from farming with most of his 200ac tillage farm set and a small portion sold off.

"At the time, there was no paperwork involved in it," he says of the era when he first started working on the family's then dairy farm in Rathvilly at the age of 13.

"Once I had my hands and was able to work, there were no issues. It is the nature of the work. It's the same in other jobs as well - fishermen, truck drivers, taxi drivers, jockeys, lads working on the roadside in county councils, those in building," he says, adding that those type of jobs had, in the past, often attracted those with learning difficulties.

During his school days, Ned said he was often subjected to punishment in class as he couldn't follow the course work. At one stage he got a number of teeth pulled out as it meant days off school.

He knew he was illiterate as he faced difficulties with reading and writing all his life, but he had come up with coping strategies to get through the day and make the farm work.

He used to place stones in his pocket to mark every 50 paces as he measured a field as he had difficulty remembering the larger figures. Out delivering cattle, Ned turned to a voice recorder to remember the numbers of the animals he had to take off the lorry.

"I was going to meetings with Teagasc and I wasn't even getting a quarter of the meeting," he says.

"The paperwork was growing and I changed my farming then as I wasn't able to cope with it," he says, adding he decided to get out of cattle altogether.

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