Farmers protest over plans for council inspections

Pauline Scott Farmers from County Roscommon left the Minister for Environment and Local Government John Gormley TD in no doubt about their attitude to new plans for county council inspections of farms on Monday afternoon last when they held a protest in Clondra as the Minister performed the official opening of a waste water treatment unit in the Shannonside village. County Chairman Bernard Donohue from Kilmore was joined by his counterparts from Co. Longford and Leitrim as well as Connacht Vice President Michael Silke and farmers from all three counties for the protest, which was organised at short notice on Monday morning. Also present were Longford Deputies Peter Kelly and James Bannon, as well as Westmeath TD Mary O’Rourke and Senator Nicky McFadden. Farm representatives told Minister Gormley that they were very concerned to learn that County Councils are planning to carry out farm inspections, saying that this represented a duplication of inspections carried out by the Department of Agriculture and a waste of taxpayers’ money.  Bernard Donohue, Chairperson of IFA in Roscommon, told the Minister that he didn’t think it was a good use of taxpayers’ money to duplicate services. He said that the Department of Agriculture is the competent authority in the area and added that farmers have no problem with the County Council carrying out inspections where there is a problem with pollution. He also said that the plan by the county councils to carry out inspections is a fundamental change of position. Minister Gormley noted that he had met directly with IFA and they had raised the issue. He added that he has not spoken to the Minister for Agriculture on the issue but is happy to raise it with his cabinet colleagues to see what is happening.  Mr. Donohue pointed out that farmers are already heavily inspected and said that farmers would expect and accept that if there is a pollution problem that inspections must take place. However, he warned against over-regulation of farmers.