Justice Minister says 'no plans' to change trespass laws despite farmer fears
'Farmers want there to be consequences for people for being on their land'
Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan has said that he has no immediate plans to change the law regarding trespass on farmland.
His decision is in the wake of concerns raised by the Irish Farmer's Association, that if farmers identify people trespassing on their land, it is not considered a criminal offence.
Speaking in the Dáil on the issue, Minister Flanagan said that the general legal position in respect of trespass is that it is a civil wrong and, for the most part, can be addressed by means of a civil remedy through the courts.
He said he acknowledged the interest of various farm and rural organisations, particularly the IFA, on this issue. However, he said there are already significant legislative provisions and penalties in place relating to trespass.
The Minister said the Criminal Justice (Public Order) Act, contains provisions specifically relating to the unauthorised entry onto and occupation of land, including farmland.
He said the law provides for offences relating to illegal trespass and occupation of land which result in a range of specified adverse consequences.
Such land includes privately-owned land and public land provided or maintained by a statutory body. The legislation empowers An Garda Síochána to direct trespassers to leave the land concerned and, if necessary, remove any object belonging to them from the occupied land.
A person who is guilty of an offence under this part of the act is liable on summary conviction to a fine of up to €4,000 or a term of imprisonment, or both, the Minister said.