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Clare IFA chairman, Willie Hanrahan. Photograph by John Kelly.

Doonbeg farmland ‘under threat’

DONALD Trump may be a divisive figure but efforts must be made to protect the dunes of Doonbeg, while nearby farmlands remain “under threat” from flooding.

William Hanrahan, IFA county chairman, told the monthly meeting of Clare County Council that flood protection is a major issue for the county, with the IFA “intensively” lobbying the OPW and government departments for funding to complete outstanding works.

“In some areas, planning permission is required and IFA would urge Clare County Council to wholeheartedly support these projects, whether it is on the banks of the Shannon or the Atlantic coast,” he said.
He recalled that after the major storms of 2014, “vast areas of farmland were covered with water”.

“If they are covered for some time, the whole area turns black and production is non-existent.”
Mr Hanrahan said that the land at the back of the dunes at the Trump International Golf Links and Hotel Ireland in Doonbeg is “vulnerable”.

“It’s over sea level and if the dunes breach, they will be under threat.”
He said that opinions on Trump need to be “left to the side” and that efforts need to be made to protect local communities.

Mr Hanrahan also highlighted the importance of the county’s agricultural sector. The value of exports arising from agricultural outputs in Clare for 2016 was €299 million.

In addition, the agricultural output value is worth €204m, with the aquaculture output valued at €0.8m.
Figures for 2016 show there are 6,491 farmers in Clare, with farm employment at 7,854. The aquaculture sector employs 37 people in Clare. The average farm size is 32.5ha. The land area farmed in the county is 211,016 hectares.

In relation to the council’s Rural Development Strategy, Mr Hanrahan stated, “The IFA look forward to working with the rural development team to enhance County Clare for all residents, both urban and rural, in every part of the county”.

In relation to farm inspections, the IFA have proposed a ‘yellow card’ system.
Farm inspections usually take place in the spring by Department of Agriculture officials, acting on behalf of Clare County Council.

“These inspectors have the authority to place large fines on farmers’ single farm payment,” said Mr Hanrahan.
Under the yellow card system, a farmer would be given a specific time to remedy the problem to the satisfaction of the council. Failure to comply would result in a fine.

“Moving in this direction would be a major step forward in building trust and confidence that we are all working for the common good.”
The IFA would support the continuation of the hedge cutting grant scheme.

However, according to Mr Hanrahan, “Increased grant aid is required for the continued success of the scheme”.
He said that co-operation between the council and landowners is very important.
He also stated that the organisation recognises the potential of a Greenway in Clare but “the concerns of those affected by its presence has to be addressed”.

Mr Hanrahan commented, “The IFA is an integral part of the community and has always worked for the benefit of the community and the environment”.

 

Jessica Quinn

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