Farmer says walking group is like 'the Mafia'
The Co Sligo farmer who was imprisoned for threatening walkers on his farm last March told the annual general meeting of the Irish Cattle and Sheepfarmers'Association that the Keep Ireland Open organisation was like "the Mafia".
"These people want a slice of everyone's action for nothing," Mr Andy McSharry told the agm of the drystock farmers association, where he was a special guest and was given a warm reception by the 150 delegates in Kilcock, Co Kildare.
Vowing he would continue his 12-year fight to keep walkers off his farm, Mr McSharry, who is known as "the Bull," told the delegates that the Keep Ireland Open Organisation was not "farmer-friendly".
He said that since he was imprisoned, he had been approached by other people from areas like Glencar who wanted to form an organisation to help protect them from walkers.
He said he supposed people were not likely to take heed of a "rough-looking farmer like myself" but he was going to continue to do his bit to protect his farm and his fences.
"I am the Bull, and I may have a bull's neck but I can't be that bad. I have no ring in my nose," he said to loud applause.
The organisation's president, Mr Malcolm Thompson, said the EU was applying double standards in relation to food regulations by demanding the utmost in regulations in the Union but averting its gaze in relation to imports.
"We cannot be expected to compete on an uneven playing pitch with the competition from Brazil, Argentina, Thailand and from every corner of the globe. These countries do not have to adhere to the same rigid standards of health and traceability as we do," he said.