Families 'shocked' by safety funding cut
A bereavement support group for families left devastated by farm accidents is "shocked" by the Government's decision to cut spending on farm safety initiatives by 38pc this year.
Spending on the sector has been reduced by more than 50pc over the last three years, from €589,870 in 2013 to just €244,000 in 2016.
Brian Rohan, founder of Embrace FARM (Farm Accidents - Remembered and Missed) said the decision is "very disappointing".
"The figure for funding is going down but the number of fatalities on our farm are not dropping radically," he said.
"We were hoping that funding could increase if anything. We've already had eight deaths on Irish farms this year and it's only July, that figure could potentially reach 16 by the end of the year," he said.
"If more funding was available more farm safety mentoring and classes could be promoted so that all farmers could learn best practice and learn how to react if an accident occurs," said Mr Rohan who established Embrace following the death of his father, Liam, on the family farm in Shanahoe, Co Laois in 2012. The support groups holds an annual Mass to remember all those lost and seriously injured on farms throughout the country. Almost 400 attended the service last month in Abbeyleix.
"We've requested a meeting with the Minister of Agriculture and we will be raising the issue of funding cuts with him. We will also be pressing for farm safety training to be made compulsory for all farmers," he said.
A spokesperson the HSA said the authority is running a wide range of activities in attempts to influence and drive change in the farming sector.
"We are a key player in the ongoing development of knowledge transfer groups and will engage with 60 different groups nationwide this year. We're also in the process of developing e-learning courses in relation to tractor and machinery safety. These activities are an integral part of our holistic approach to influencing the attitudes of farmers," he said.