Monday 22 January 2018

Tragedy as farmer dies in 'slurry-related accident'

(Stock picture)
(Stock picture)

David Young

A farmer has died in what is thought to have been a slurry-related accident on a farm at Coagh in Co Tyrone.

The accident happened yesterday evening around 5pm.

The man who died has been named locally as farmer Alastair Sloss, of Ruskey Road in the village. It is believed he died at the scene.

Local DUP representative Keith Buchanan last night expressed his sympathies to the grieving family

The Mid Ulster MLA said: "This is another tragic loss within the farming community.

"It once again reminds us all of the dangers associated with slurry. My thoughts and prayers are with the family at the time of such devastating loss.

"I would also urge everyone working on farms to follow all recommended safety procedures, particularly when working with slurry."

Mr Buchanan also revealed that there was pressure on farmers to finish their slurry spreading to meet today's government deadline.

The MLA said: "Farmers are very aware that the closed period for slurry spreading is due to commence at midnight on October 15.

"The Agriculture Minister has said however that farmers are able to put a case forward in exceptional circumstances to spread slurry beyond the closed period."

The chairman of Mid Ulster Council, Trevor Wilson, said his heart went out to the bereaved family. "This is a terrible tragedy," the Cookstown councillor added.

"The family will be in all our thoughts and prayers after this dreadful event."

Ulster Unionist MLA for Mid Ulster Sandra Overend also expressed her sadness on hearing the news.

Mrs Overend said: "To hear of another local farming accident brings a clench to my stomach.  I was so saddened to hear of the tragic death of Alistair Sloss yesterday evening and I immediately thought of his family who are suffering their greatest sadness; my heart goes out to them.

"The slurry spreading season, which is now concluding, brings a stressful time for farmers, juggling responsibilities, tending to animals and preparing the land.  It is just terrible that this tragedy has happened and another farming family is grieving as a result.  My thoughts and prayers are with them."

News of yesterday's tragic death in Coagh comes just days after a Co Fermanagh farmer was lucky to escape with his life while mixing slurry.

Five cows died during the incident at Letterbreen on Tuesday.

Fermanagh and South Tyrone MP Tom Elliott said: "I am a farmer myself, I know that farmers all over the country are under pressure at the moment.

"This is no doubt a traumatic time for the farmer and his family. There could have been a tragedy on our doorstep."

Earlier this week, the Health and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland called on farmers to make sure to take extra care while mixing slurry.

"At certain concentrations, just one breath can kill," a HSE spokesman warned. "Do not take any chances when mixing slurry. Your life may depend on it."

Between 2000 and May 2015, 11 farm deaths were caused by slurry.

It is understood that the Health a Safety Executive is investigating the incident which claimed Mr Sloss's life.

In a statement issued following yesterday's Coagh tragedy, the HSE said its "deepest sympathies are with the man's family at this most difficult time".

Belfast Telegraph

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