Farmers in the Republic of Ireland are demanding €5 per metre for allowing walkers on routes crossing their land.
In a move grough can only hope doesn’t catch on this side of the Irish Sea, the farmers’ representative body, the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) says its members should receive government money as compensation for having waymarked paths across their land.
The IFA was also the only member of Comhairle na Tuaithe, the country council set up by the Irish Government, not to agree to a report which outlined a strategy for access and recreation in the Irish countryside. Unlike Scotland, England and Wales, the Irish Republic has very little statutory access to wilderness and upland areas.
Now the Government’s rural-affairs minister Eamon O’Cuiv says he wants to set up ‘walking managers’ to mediate between outdoor enthusiasts and farmers when disputes arise.
Mr O’Cuiv said: “We will appoint local people who know the regions they will work in and the landowners who live there.
“These are going to be people who are out and about in their communities and who will be contactable by mobile phone, not stuck in an office. They will be pro-active: talking to landowners, getting agreements on access and helping to develop walking networks and trails.”
Each Irish county could have up to three of the managers. The IFA is warning its members may close paths if the issue is not resolved. The Mountaineering Council of Ireland and more than 20 other organisations represented on the comhairle is backing the agreement on a nationwide strategy on countryside access.