The Irish Natura and Hill Farmers’ Association (INHFA) has warned that “aggressive demands” from the general public for access to farmland will “alienate farmers”.

The association made the comments this morning (Monday, February 7) after reports this weekend that an umbrella group of various bodies was seeking legislation to allow less restricted access to the countryside.

伞集团称为“保持爱尔兰开放”(KIO), is made up of various groups. Among them are (according to the group’s website) Irish Rural Link and Friends of the Irish Environment (FIE), the latter of which will be familiar as the group whose court action has stalled flood relief works around Lough Funshinagh in Co. Roscommon.

In response to these reports, INHFA vice-president Pheilim Molloy described the demands from KIO as “unacceptable and an infringement on property rights”.

“The proposal [from the umbrella group] infuriated farmers, many of whom were amenable to hillwalking provided their property rights were respected and walkers conduct their activities in a responsible manner,” Molloy said.

As reported in theIrish Times, KIO is calling for an “attitude change” that would allow increased access to land, and decreasing the power of farmers and landowners to prevent it.

On this point, Molloy said: “We do need to see a change in attitude but this must come from bodies like KIO and those that believe they have a divine right to access any land.

“While KIO sees this only from the point of them being able to enjoy leisure activity, for farmers this is their workplace and livelihood and as citizens of the State, they have every right to expect their livelihoods to be protected.

“We have outlined legitimate farmer concerns with regard todogs; the damaging of property; the blocking of gateways through illegal parking; and where liability lies in the event of an accident,” Molloy noted.

“These are major issues for farmers that continue to be ignored, much to the frustration of farmers,” the INHFA vice-president added.

He continued: “The demands made by KIO will undermine the goodwill currently provided by farmers towards those who want to access their property.

“It is now vital that those who want to maintain access to our hills distance themselves from KIO and their divisive statements,” Molloy concluded.