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Call for action on trespassing gangs in Clare during open season

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TRESPASSING on farm land across the county is generating concern, now that the season has opened for hunting. 

The ICMSA is seeking an urgent meeting with the Minister for Justice on what it has described as “the growing countrywide problem of gangs trespassing farmland on the pretext of hunting and the levels of intimidation and threat associated with this activity”.

In Clare, ICMSA County Chair Martin McMahon said the problem has increased since open season begin on November 1. 

“Having people with packs of dogs coming onto farm land is a very big problem,” he said.

“Dogs are driving cattle mad and they’ll break through every fence to get away from them. Often, the farmer doesn’t know the cattle are out until they get a call and they could be out on the road at that stage. Farmers have to have public liability insurance in that case because there’s such a risk.”

ICMSA headquarters described themselves as “deluged with complaints” on the issue. President, Pat McCormack said that the farm organisation was receiving complaints about about encounters between farmers and gangs trespassing. He said that the scale and intensity of these encounters is now rising rapidly, and that he has told Minister Helen McEntee that it is a matter of time before injury or worse results.

What we are hearing time and again from the farmers is that these groups will not leave lands even after it has been pointed out that they are trespassing and have no permission,” he said.

“Nor do they seem bothered by the prospect of the Gardai being called.  They just seem to think they are above the law.”

In Clare, Mr McMahon said that only a minority of those legitimately coming onto land to hunt will actually communicate with the farmer.

“Some people are very good and will ask if I have cattle still out,” he said. “They understand farms and might be farmers themselves. If the cattle are out, they won’t come in. I appreciate that, but it’s only a minority that will actually speak to the farmer before coming onto the land.

“The really big issue at the moment is the presence of dogs. People seem to be prepared to travel long distances to access farm land, but if they create havoc with a farmer’s cattle, they’re gone very quickly leaving the farmer to deal with the consequences.”

Nationally, the ICMSA has appealed to the Justice Minister to ask Gardaí for more rigorous enforcement of the laws around driving and vehicles.

We know again that so many of the individuals involved have multiple driving bans and that they will often be travelling in vehicles – often vans – with no sign of road tax, insurance, or NCT. Where that is the case, then we want the Gardai to confiscate these vans and take them away from the individuals using them.”

Mr McCormack said that ICMSA welcomed the Ministers new proposal to bring together the relevant state departments and agencies along with farm organisations. The State has to bring the focus and determination to uphold the Law if tragedy is to be avoided,” he said. 

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