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Councillor PJ Kelly: there has been a “stealth move” and the new regulation amounts to “a dummy bought by members of the Oireachtas.”

Kelly: dozy Oireachtas members let small farmers get shafted


A CLARE councillor has railed against what he calls discrimination against small farmers and their families.

Councillor PJ Kelly said that new regulations which he said are being introduced because members of the Oireachtas “who were asleep or half asleep and let through legislation that they didn’t understand” have the potential to be very harmful for small farmers.

“Under the new regulations, up to 90% of the farmers in West Clare, if we adopt the County Development Plan, will not be recognised as farmers, because they are under the limit of 20 hectares, which is 49.42 acres, say 50 acres,” Councillor Kelly pointed out.

“In other words the priviliged will have 50 acres, their sons and daughters will be recognised as the sons and daughters of farmers and get the benefits accordingly.

“Those who have less than 50 acres will not be recognised as the progeny of farmers anymore,” said Councillor Kelly.

He said there had been a “stealth move” and that the new regulation amounted to “a dummy bought by members of the Oireachtas.”

Instead, he said, the emphasis should be on having a herd number rather than a given amount of land.

“Farmers at the moment have a legal status once they have a herd number. That brings them a recognition, that brings them a benefit, and if that benefit is taken away from them that’s going to have an unbelievable impact on the population trends and the housing development in rural Clare, at a post Covid time when there is a massive move to the countryside.”

At the September meeting of Clare County Council, Councillor Kelly put forward a motion asking that landowners with a Department of Agriculture herd number be recognised and treated as farmers in the County Development Plan.

“It’s a declaration of intent. I intend to bring in a formal amendment to the County Development Plan,” he said.

A written reply to the motion from Director of Service Liam Conneally said that the matter was not best dealt with through a motion at the Council meeting, but there would be a future opportunity.

“The making of a Development Plan is a statutory process as set out in the planning legislation. The inclusion/omission of specific planning policy objectives must be considered as part of that statutory process.

“The next opportunity for formal consideration by the Members of the Draft County Development Plan is the consideration of the Chief Executive’s Report which was issued to the Members in July 2022.

“In this regard the most appropriate forum to address the above matter is within the Draft Clare County Development Plan planmaking process,” Mr Conneally’s reply stated.

While it was said at the meeting that a 12.5 hectare level had been agreed at workshops on the Development Plan, Councillor Kelly said this is not acceptable to him.

“I’m surprised anyone of a rural nature would support discrimination,” he commented.

Owen Ryan

Owen Ryan has been a journalist with the Clare Champion since 2007, having previously worked for a number of other regional titles in Limerick, Galway and Cork.

About Owen Ryan

Owen Ryan has been a journalist with the Clare Champion since 2007, having previously worked for a number of other regional titles in Limerick, Galway and Cork.