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Wednesday 20 June 2018

'Minister in Denial': Some Sligo farmers at a loss of up to €40k over burnt land says TD

Sligo County Council is counting the cost of a spate of gorse fires last year
Sligo County Council is counting the cost of a spate of gorse fires last year
FarmIreland Team

FarmIreland Team

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Michael Creed face more questions in the Dail last week relating to the delay in payments to farmers who are part of a commonage at Killerry in Ballintogher, County Sligo.

It's just over a year since three gorse fires ravaged Killery Mountain, Geevagh and Lough Easkey/Ox Mountains at a cost to Sligo County Council of approximately €125,000.

Hundreds of acres of land were destroyed and a section of the Sligo Way boardwalk was damaged.

The Department of Rural and Community Development funded repairs to the boardwalk last summer.

However 33 farmers were notified by the Department of Agriculture that their Basic Payment would be reduced. They are awaiting the outcome of an appeal against this.

Farmers have withdrawn access to several walkways on rural mountains in South East Sligo in protest

One of the signs erected by farmers at Crossboy crossroads.
One of the signs erected by farmers at Crossboy crossroads.

Raising the issue in the Dail again last week, Fine Gael TD Tony McLoughlin said one farmer effected  told him that he is at the loss of about €40,000 and while others are at the loss of about 140pc.

“I ask that this would be dealt with as a matter of urgency.

“Thirty farmers are involved in that commonage on which a fire occurred last year. It is time this matter was resolved in the interest of those farmers.

“I have met them and they are certainly out of pocket,” he said.

Minister Creed responded that he was not familiar with the detail of the commonage can have the matter investigated.

A Cloonacool based farmer says that the Minister for Agriculture, Michael Creed, is in denial about issues that are affecting farmers in the region.

Eddie Davitt, Rural Development Chairman for the IFA in Sligo, has been left angered by what he calls the Ministers refusal to address the issues in Sligo and surrounding areas.

Davitt criticised the minister after farmers were fined following the fires in the Killery mountain last year.

"The way the Minister has dealt with this has been disgusting," Mr. Davitt told The Sligo Champion.

He continued: "Over 30 farmers are suffering because of this, and their livelihoods have been impacted.

"It has been raised a few times in the Dáil and last week he basically said he knew nothing about it. That's insulting to us," he continued.

The impact of the fodder crisis continues to be felt by many farmers in the region, he said.

"The fodder crisis has been tough for everyone financially, physically and emotionally. It was a devastating year for farmers in the region.

"Costs have quadrupled for people. We had two high profile meetings in Sligo about the fodder crisis and nothing came out of that.

"They almost denied that there was a fodder crisis even happening.

"He doesn't live in the west of Ireland, he doesn't see the problems that we face on a daily basis here. The Minister has not acknowledged that this has been going on," he said.

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