Category Archives: Farming

Agricultural crime far greater than reflected in official Garda statistics – ICSA

‘Two thirds of Irish farming families affected by crime relating to their farming enterprise.’

‘Many in rural Ireland have little confidence in how Garda Siochana and judicial system are tackling the issue.’

Sligo News File.

ICSA president Patrick Kent has said the issue of agricultural crime is a far bigger issue than official Garda statistics would suggest. Mr Kent was speaking following the release of the third and final report from ICSA’s National Agricultural Crime Survey undertaken in conjunction with the Waterford Institute of Technology.

ICSA with Minister for Justice & Equality Charles Flanagan to discuss details of the ICSA agricultural crime survey in Portlaoise. Pictured (l-r) Laura Starnes (ICSA Operations Manager) Eddie Punch (ICSA General Secretary) Seamus Sherlock (ICSA Rural Development Chairman) Minister Charles Flanagan and Patrick Kent (ICSA President)

He said, “We now know that that two thirds of Irish farming families have been affected by crime relating to their farming enterprise and that many in rural Ireland have little confidence in how An Garda Siochana and the judicial system are tackling the issue.

“The general perception is that reporting crime is futile; there are inadequate resources to get convictions and even when convictions are secured, repeat offenders are getting off far too lightly.”

The chairman of the association’s rural development committee Seamus Sherlock said, “ICSA has provided proof that agricultural crime is hitting farmers’ pockets at a time when most are struggling to make ends meet at all. Financially it’s wreaking havoc, not to mention the stress and emotional impact these crimes have.

“We cannot accept crime as part and parcel of life in rural Ireland. As a result of the startling findings of the survey, ICSA is committed to bringing the issue of rural crime to the top of the political agenda.

Mr. Sherlock went on to call on the farming communiy to report all instances of crime to the Gardaí even if they cannot see any immediate benefit from doing so. “The figures revealed in this crime survey need to be reflected in official Garda statistics so the scale of the problem can be recognised and appropriate resources put in place,” he said

The ICSA survey was devised by Dr Kathleen Moore Walsh, a lecturer in Law and Criminology and Louise Walsh, a lecturer in Accounting and Finance, both from the Waterford Institute. The study examines crimes that occur solely on farms or relating to farming activities.

Findings of the third report indicate that 45% of respondents did not report instances of agricultural crime to the Gardaí. The reasons given for choosing not to report a crime are as follows:

i. “Waste of time,” “no point” and/or “too much hassle;”

ii. No action taken by Gardaí when reported a previous theft incident(s);

iii. No prosecution arose from previous theft incident(s) reported;

iv. Asset(s) previously reported stolen were not recovered;

v. Unsure when asset(s) was stolen;

vi. Gardaí would be unlikely to trace the thief and/or the stolen assets;

vii. Believed value and/or quantity of asset(s) stolen was not significant enough to warrant reporting;

viii. Knew the person(s) involved in the theft;

ix. Farmer dealt with the theft him/herself;

x. Fear of retribution;

xi. Garda station closed (either permanently or at the time when wanted to report the theft incident); and

xii. No local Garda with knowledge of the area and/or community.

The report also suggests that the level of recovery of stolen assets is as low as just 8%. Respondents recorded that less assets were recovered ‘by Gardai’ than by ‘other than Gardaí’. One of the most significant reasons recorded for not reporting an agricultural crime incident to Gardaí possibly centred on the farmers dealing with the crime themselves.

Continuing Mr Sherlock said, “We are witnessing the whole fabric of rural society being decimated with farmers feeling more and more isolated and side-lined. Nobody should have to live in a state of constant fear and anxiety as a result of feeling under siege due to lack of Garda resources. Worse still is that farmers are expected to fund expensive deterrents such as electric gates and security cameras.

“The ordinary decent people of rural Ireland are outraged that criminals seem to be acting with impunity. Even where insurance is in place, premiums are always at risk of rising significantly as a result of this type of crime.

He added that he report was “hugely important as determining the costs of agricultural crime provides the justification for spending scarce resources on tackling the issue.”

ICSA slates Citizens’ Assembly proposals on taxing farmers

‘Lamentable example of group think emerging from a part-time weekend talk shop.’

‘How stupid would it be to reduce Irish agricultural output so that the likes of Brazil could expand at a far higher environmental cost?’

‘Government and all public representatives need to man up and stop outsourcing policy decisions to hobby weekend policy makers.’

Sligo News File

ICSA president Patrick Kent has slammed the Citizens’ Assembly proposal to tax farmers for food production emissions as “a completely daft idea which is a lamentable example of group think emerging from a part-time weekend talk shop.

Patrick Kent, President,

“When you get daft proposals on additional taxes for farmers enthusiastically backed by 89% of respondents and a proposal for a new quango backed by 98% of respondents, it is obvious that this does not arise from balanced debate and careful reflection. Instead it suggests that the findings have been orchestrated by the way the debate has been framed and the questions put.

“Did anyone ponder the hypocrisy of favouring carbon taxes for the end users of fuel but not for beef or dairy? The reality is that if the Citizens’ Assembly was asked if they favoured food taxes at retail level they would have been a lot slower to jump on the bandwagon. Moreover, they would then have to reflect on the fact that any such tax would have to be levied not just in Ireland but in every country in the world where we export food.

“Applying a tax on Irish food production is daft because it ignores the inconvenient truth that people choose to eat and that most of these people are not actually in Ireland but in markets all over Europe and further afield. If we close down Irish beef farmers, we simply relocate the production of beef to other parts of the globe where they don’t give a toss about Citizens’ Assemblies.

“How stupid would it be to reduce Irish agricultural output so that the likes of Brazil could expand at a far higher environmental cost?

“At least there was some acknowledgement that farming activities also sequester carbon and that farmers should be incentivised for providing carbon sinks. Contrary to popular belief, this should not be about sitka spruce plantations which are actually very limited in terms of sequestration but about well managed grassland farming combined with the maintenance of biodiverse landscapes.

“Government and all public representatives need to man up and stop outsourcing policy decisions to hobby weekend policy makers. It is a wasteful diversionary tactic when we could incentivise farmers to supply solar energy or invest in anaerobic digestion which produces renewable heat while reducing slurry emissions. Ireland also needs to reject the absurd EU Commission proposals to undermine crop based biofuels on EU farms which produce up to 70% lower GHG emissions than fossil fuels. While electric vehicles might eventually be attractive as an alternative, we have to deal with today’s fleet today.

“The Government also needs to stand up and be counted on the climate impact of a potential Mercosur trade deal which in essence will result in increased imports of beef and ethanol at significant environmental cost when we could produce all we need of these products in the EU without the global transport emissions involved in imports from South America.”


Report: Largest UK abortion provider reportedly ‘paid staff bonuses for encouraging women to have abortions’

‘Staff felt pressured into encouraging abortions’

Sligo News File

One of the UKs largest abortion providers has been paying bonuses to staff who encourage women to have abortions, it has been claimed.

The Daily Mail states that the allegations centre on Marie Stopes

Marie Stopes Clinic Maidstone, Kent

International, and are said to have come in a report from the Care Quality Commission, a non-departmental public body of the Department of Health of the United Kingdom.

Inspectors, says the Mail, found evidence of a policy – in place across all 70 Marie Stopes clinics in the country – whereby staff were told to call women who had decided not to have an abortion, and offer them a new appointment.

The Mail states that according to the report staff felt ‘encouraged’ to ensure women went through with abortions because it was ‘linked to their performance bonus.’

Inspectors reportedly uncovered a document referring to a ‘company-wide focus’ on women who weren’t going ahead with abortions, who were referred to as ‘Did No Proceed’ patients.

The Mail states, : ‘Staff were concerned that ‘Did Not Proceed’, the term used when women decided not to proceed with treatment, was measured as a KPI (key performance indicator) and linked to their performance bonus. They felt that this encouraged staff to ensure that patients underwent procedures.’

It is alleged that report is more damning than any previous inspection.

The Mail notes that the “watchdog’s accusations are made in a just published 2016 report into the Marie Stopes centre in Maidstone, Kent. Staff reputedly told Care Quality Commission inspectors the clinic was like a ‘cattle market’ and described a ‘very target-driven culture’.”

Parents, partners or friends of women thinking about having an abortion were ‘seen as an inconvenience’ and ‘their presence strongly discouraged’, the report apparently stated.

Conservative MP Fiona Bruce is quoting as saying: ‘It is shocking to hear that, at what is often such a difficult and stressful moment,

Fiona Bruce MP with British Prime Minister Theresa May

abortion clinics are taking advantage of pregnant women by seeking to do as many abortions as they can, rather than seeking to give genuine, non-directional counselling and advice.

‘This completely undermines the legitimacy of these publicly funded organisations, and must be investigated.’

The Mail also quotes Clara Campbell, from the charity Life, as saying: ‘This exposes the true income-seeking nature of the abortion industry.

‘A conveyer-belt culture has pervaded the industry for many years and Marie Stopes International is a good example of this.

‘The abortion industry likes to parrot a narrative of looking after the interests of women but when it ends up placing their health and safety at risk in the pursuit of money, it becomes incumbent on the Government to act to protect women.’

Marie Stopes sees 70,000 patients a year for abortions and other sexual health services. The organisation said it was ‘categorically untrue’ that staff bonuses were linked to the number of women who went ahead with abortions.’

Wake-up call to Irish politicians to oppose EU beef quota concession to South America’s Trade Bloc

‘…beyond comprehension how any responsible politician would accept a trade deal with South America which will undermine Irish beef production.’

‘We cannot accept the EU making trade deals all over the globe when they are making no progress in solving the trading arrangements with the UK.’

‘Damage to the beef sector and impact on rural communities would be immense.’

Sligo News File.

ICSA president Patrick Kent has called on the Government and all Irish MEPs to give a clear and unambiguous commitment to opposing concessions on beef quotas in the Mercosur negotiations.

Patrick Kent, President, ICSA

“This is not about standards; this is about whether you care about the livelihoods of Irish and European beef farmers. It is beyond comprehension how any responsible politician would accept a trade deal with South America which will undermine Irish beef production at the very time when our main market for beef in the UK is under threat due to Brexit.”

“We cannot accept the EU making trade deals all over the globe when they are making no progress in solving the trading arrangements with the UK,” he said.

“The UK took 270,000 tons of Irish beef in 2016. Anything which damages that market is disastrous for Ireland and combining that threat with 70,000 tons or more of ultra-cheap Brazilian beef and equivalent amounts of poultry would be suicide for our sector.”

“The overall net trading gain is as little as €3 billion for Europe, in terms of tariff elimination or reduction. In practice, this means that to avoid some €4 billion tariffs on industrial exports to South America, Europe would forego approximately €1 billion in tariffs. However, for a relatively small gain on tariffs the damage to the beef sector here and the knock on impact on rural communities would be immense. We export some €2.5 billion of beef and cattle which is predominantly within the EU and this is under threat. The knock-on impact to rural communities is a multiple of this.

“ICSA believes that the standards that European farmers work to are far in excess of the South American standards. However, as we have seen earlier this year with the meat adulteration scandal in Brazil, there is no real prospect of the EU being able to enforce the same levels of traceability in South America as are enforced rigidly on EU farmers.

The Taoiseach should be cautious about believing that standards can be the same.

“In any event, the issue is whether we support beef production in Europe or in South America – we can’t do both,” he added

Hogan given award for services to Austria

Previously served as Irish Minister for Water.

Sligo News File

The Times reports that Phil Hogan has been made a presentation for services to Austria. Hogan served as Irish Minister for water services before his appointment as EU Commissioner for Agriculture. The nature or extent of the work for which Austria has recognised him is not mentioned in the report.


ICSA chairman slams GAA broadcasting deal with SKY

‘Terrible decision.’

‘Many older rural fans left unable to see crucial matches.’

Sligo News File

ICSA rural development chairman Seamus Sherlock has called on the GAA to reflect on its decision to only show certain matches on Pay-TV, a decision which, he said, has left many unable to see crucial games.

Seamus Sherlock, Chair, ICSA Rural Development Committee.


He said:

“The Championship is now heading into the knockout stages, and every game will be fiercely contested and for many older fans living in rural areas free-to-air TV was their only opportunity to witness the game.

“The decision to tie themselves into a multi-year deal with SKY showed a complete lack of empathy on the part of the GAA towards older people living in rural Ireland, many of whom are lifelong stalwarts of the association.

“I am very disappointed with the GAA’s attitude of putting profit before its patrons, and denying so many the chance to enjoy our native games.”

Branding it as as “a terrible decision,” Mr Sherlock added that the deal “…should be abandoned at the earliest possible stage.”

ICSA warns against unfair BPS penalties for fire damaged lands

Majority of farmers had no hand, act or part in the burning.

Questions over legality of Government threat.

Sligo News File

ICSA rural development chairman Seamus Sherlock has questioned the legality of penalising farmers through the Basic Payment Scheme whose land has been burned unless there is absolute proof that the farmer was guilty of causing the fire. 

Seamus Sherlock, Chair, ICSA Rural Development Committee.

“It is abundantly clear that the rapid spread of fires in recent weeks means that the majority of farmers had no hand, act or part in the burning and were in fact, victims of collateral damage caused by the carelessness or recklessness of a few. In fact, we have no proof that any farmer deliberately started a fire.” 

Mr Sherlock was speaking following a statement by Minister of State Andrew Doyle that satellite imagery would be examined to identify land as burnt illegally which would then be deemed ineligible under the 2017 Basic Payment Scheme and other land based schemes.

Mr Sherlock said “Fires are caused by a variety of reasons and can spread into parcels of land owned by many individuals. There is the potential that a cohort of farmers will face penalties through no fault of their own.

“The Basic Payment is too important an income source to be raided in this manner.”

Councillors to hear report of potential new South Sligo food centre

Upwards of twenty jobs lost when Aurivo co-operative transferred South Sligo butter packing operation to Cork last year

Sligo News File.

A meeting of the South and West Sligo Municipal District is to hear a report on the development of a possible new food centre in Achonry.

It comes a year after Aurivo announced the transfer of its butter packing facility from the south Sligo site to Cork with the loss of up to 20 jobs

The meeting will be held at 3 pm on next Monday in Meeting Room 1, Teach Laighne, Tubbercurry. It is open to the public.

Motions down for discussion include:

– Request for drainage at Rockfield Cemetary

– The decision of the Planning Board refusing permission for a new water treatment plant at Lough Talt

– concerns over safety at the entrance to Colaiste Mhuire, Ballymote

– Call to have works carried out on Regional Road at Woodhill   

– repairs to public footpath and installation of lighting at Gallagher      Road, Tubbercurry

– date works to commence at Cashel Gates junction

– whether Clar funds can be used for the provision of bus shelters at Curry Village and

– demand for works at Stirabout Bridge, Cloona