BY FRANCIS FARRAGHER
THE decision by Agriculture Minister, Simon Coveney, to microchip all dogs has been warmly welcomed by farm representatives this week who have lobbied for years, to have such a traceability system put in place. Over the past six months there have been a series of dog attacks on sheep in Co. Galway with the Oranmore, Loughrea and Tuam areas particularly badly hit.
“This is long overdue but the announcement from the Minister is to be welcomed. For years, sheep farmers have suffered serious losses due to dog attacks on their flocks without any redress,” said Galway IFA Chairman, Michael Flynn. He also called for the microchipping of the dogs to be linked into some kind of insurance scheme that would put an onus on the dog owners to provide cover for compensation.
“We would like to see the scheme put in place immediately with a proper centralised data base – this has been a scourge in farming that has been allowed to go unchecked for too long,” said Michael Flynn.
He said that as well as the financial loss suffered by farmers, the cruelty element was absolutely horrendous with the packs of dogs ‘boring holes’ into the unfortunate sheep.
IFA National Sheep Committee Chairman, James Murphy, said the move to microchip all dogs had an important role to play in terms of responsible dog ownership but would only be effective if it was matched by a comprehensive central database in the Dept. of Agriculture.
He said it would not make sense to do away with dog licensing altogether once an effective microchipping database was in place and called on Minister Coveney to commit to dog owners that there would be no duplication of costs.
“Farmers are in the middle of the peak lambing season, when sheep flocks are particularly vulnerable to dog attacks, especially during the night,” said James Murphy. He added that up to 2.5m lambs will be born on 30,000 sheep farms across the country by the end of the lambing season.
The news of the microchipping has also been welcomed by Veterinary Ireland who said that the system would be one one of the core tenets of responsible pet ownership.
“Mandatory universal microchip identification will ultimately assist in animal welfare for a number of reasons. A correctly inserted and registered microchip ensures that if a dog gets lost then it can be efficiently and quickly re-united with its owner.
“In addition, if a dog is subject to cruelty or abandonment, or if a dog attacks a person or livestock, then the owner can be identified and can be held accountable, up to and including prosecution.
“Finally, if Ireland e
RTÉ – the new teachers in our little rural kindergarten
Country Living with Francis Farragher
Maybe, it’s better to put the record straight right from the start. I’m not a member of the Far Right . . . I’m not an anti-vaxxer . . . I’m not a denier of climate change . . . I’m even inclined to believe in God at times, but last week when one of the ‘big wigs’ of RTÉ News went on Twitter to deliver a lecture on climate change, I genuinely felt that I had returned to some sort of national kindergarten.
Overall, we’ve had a pretty average Summer, a fair bit cooler than normal for April, May and June as evidenced by the average temperatures from the Met Éireann stations. For example, at the Athenry station, the average temperature for the year so far stands at 9.4° Celsius, 0.5°C below the long-term average of 9.9°C. Then we get a fabulous couple of weeks of sunshine, higher than normal temperatures (albeit a little bit too hot for the likes of me), and the lectures start about climate change.
I’m not even a great fan of the heat. Outdoor farm work in the evenings tends to get a bit too uncomfortable if the thermometer even starts to approach the mid-20s and especially so if there’s humidity in the air and the nights don’t cool. But, in all probability, we have enjoyed the peak of our summer weather. The rest of August is predicted to be pretty much of a mixed bag, and if anything, a bit cooler than normal.
We all know that our world is warming and that a whole series of measures are being put in place with general international co-operation to try and at least slow down that trend, but every time a bit of a wind blows, or we get a fine week, do we have to be hit with the hammer of climate change. Maybe, just give us a little break when we get a fine spell of weather; just tell people to get out into the great outdoors and simply enjoy it, with of course all the usual health caveats as regards UV rays and the pandemic.
I know that I’m not the first one to carry this torch and last week, one of our Independent TDs in the West of Ireland and a turfman of note, Michael Fitzmaurice, also had taken enough of the lectures from RTÉ’s Dublin base.
He didn’t spare the man – MD of RTÉ News and Current Affairs, Jon Williams – who had made the Twitter apology for not linking climate change in news reports to our recent fine spell of weather. Deputy Fitzmaurice described this grovel as ‘sickening propaganda’. There and then, I just felt that Mick Fitzmaurice’s sentiments struck a chord with a lot of rural people across the West of Ireland.
Read the full Country Living column in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now – or you can download our digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie
New legislation will address Shannon Callows
POWER needs to be wrested from the ESB as a matter of urgency in relation to their control of water levels along the lakes of the Shannon, according to a Galway Minister of State and a local farming representative.
Minister of State, Anne Rabbitte and long-time flood-relief campaigner from Meelick, Michael Silke, told the Farming Tribune that the ESB’s control of lake water levels along the river was causing hardship for people living in flood hit areas.
“The legislation dealing with the control of water levels along the Shannon lakes dates back to 1934 in the era of the Ardnacrusha hydro-electric project.
“But things have changed since. Now, only one per cent of our electricity comes from Ardnacrusha and I accept that it is way past time this legislation was updated,” said the Minister of State at the Dept. of Children, Disability and Equality.
She pledged that this issue would be tackled in the Government’s Autumn programme of legislation with the specific aim of setting up an overall Shannon River authority which would take control of all flooding issues relating to the waterway.
On Thursday of last week (July 29), Minister of State with responsibility for the Office of Public Works (OPW), Patrick O’Donovan, and Minister of State at the Dept. of Agriculture, Senator Pippa Hackett, were brought on a boat trip of the Shannon to look at flood pinch points.
However, according to Michael Silke, he was disappointed that this boat trip did not travel through the backwater areas of the river between Banagher and Meelick, where the pinch points actually were located.
“They went on the navigation route which did not take them into the backwaters of the channel where the pinch points are located, and we were certainly disappointed with that.
Read the full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now – or you can download our digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie
Worry of walkers claiming against farmers
FARMERS in hill-walk areas such as Connemara need to have their concerns allayed about insurance indemnification, the IFA has warned this week.
A pilot insurance project for farmers – as outlined by Rural and Community Development Minister, Heather Humphrey – is in the pipeline but has not yet been enacted into legislation.
Connacht IFA Chair, Pat Murphy, said that farmers in such areas needed the clear reassurance that if walkers on their farm had a fall or mishap, then the landowners would not be liable for any compensation.
“This really is a red line issue for farmers and landowners. They must be guaranteed in law that if hill-walkers are allowed on their lands that no liability will attach to the landowner if something happens,” said Pat Murphy.
He said that while farmers supported the principle of people being able to access the more scenic areas of the countryside, the issue of insurance indemnification had to be crystal clear.
“We also know that the issue of dogs being let roam by people out on country walks is one that needs to be addressed.
“The first thing a dog will do that’s let roam free will be to follow the nearest animal they see, and this is a major worry especially for sheep farmers,” said Pat Murphy.
Meanwhile, National Hill Committee Chairman Flor McCarthy has expressed concerns about recreational users not abiding by the Countryside Code during the recent spell of good weather.
For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.
Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App
Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.
Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite HERE.
Get the Connacht Tribune Live app
The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.