15 JULY 2016
A team of senior ICSA officials including president Patrick Kent and rural development chairman Seamus Sherlock met with Minister for Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and the Gaeltacht Heather Humphreys at Government buildings yesterday. ICSA sought commitments from Minister Humphreys on a range of issues including hedge-cutting dates, areas designated for hen harrier, rural broadband, rural crime and mental health and rural isolation.
Speaking following the meeting ICSA president Patrick Kent said “Minister Humphreys was very receptive to our concerns and we look forward to tackling these issues, many of which are having a crippling effect on life and enterprises in rural Ireland. ICSA looked for more flexibility surrounding hedge cutting dates in order to reflect weather patterns.
“ICSA received a commitment from Minister Humphreys that she would endeavour to work with other department Ministers, in relation to other highlighted concerns such as rural broadband, bank debt and rural isolation and mental health in farming.”
In particular, ICSA has sought a better deal from the Minister for farmers working in areas designated for hen harriers. Rural development chairman Seamus Sherlock added, “These farmers are essentially trying to farm with both hands tied behind their back, it’s an impossible position for them and one which is having a serious impact on their livelihoods. There has been too much delay in tackling the hen harrier issue. While the locally led schemes may be part of the solution for hen harriers, we impressed on Minister Humphreys that every designated hectare must be paid for. In that regard, the NPWS will also have to be part of the solution. We also outlined our view that the blanket ban on afforestation in designated areas contradicted the science around hen harriers and a more flexible approach was needed.”
Caption : Pictured with Minister Heather Humphreys are (L-R) Seamus Sherlock ICSA rural development chair, Carmel O’Sullivan ICSA rural development vice chair, ICSA president Patrick Kent and Edmund Graham ICSA vice beef chair.