Expert Group recommendations on farmland access slammed

The row over property rights on farmland looks set to continue for the foreseeable future after IFA President Padraig Walshe this week slammed the recommendations of the Expert Group set up by Minister Éamon Ó Cuív on land access as ‘an outrageous assault on property rights’ and one which will be strongly opposed by IFA.             It is now over three years since the Minister Ó Cuív set up Comhairle na Tuaithe and this latest attempt to railroad landowners into a solution is an indictment of his efforts on this issue.’             Mr Walshe said the proposal to legislate for access to the countryside is a clear contravention of property rights and will have wider implications for property ownership throughout the State.             ‘I was astonished to see the Expert Group describe ownership of property as a ‘concept’. It fails to recognise Article 43.2 that says ‘The State accordingly guarantees to pass no law attempting to abolish the right of private ownership or the general right to transfer, bequeath, and inherit property,’ he added.             Mr. Walshe said ‘the recommendation is tantamount to nationalisation and I’m amazed by the presumption of rights of access over private property. I’m particularly disgusted by the attempts to trample on the livelihoods of hill farmers by trespassing on their property, which in many cases is their sole source of income.’             He said that IFA has set out the way forward through the creation of a countryside walkways initiative. This initiative will encourage farmers to create trails through their lands for recreational tourism by means of a walkway scheme. The IFA President said that this scheme would be available nationwide to provide a comprehensive network of walks to the standards laid down the by the Way Marked way.             Mr. Walshe said, ‘the introduction of legislation is unnecessary as the establishment of walks are best done through negotiations and incentives.’