GAA players should be used to promote farm safety, Seanad hearing is told

Several calls for farm safety education to be compulsory in schools

Senator Gerard Craughwell: suggested “accident-free days” notices

Senator Gerard Craughwell: suggested “accident-free days” notices


Leading GAA figures should be used to promote farm safety, the Seanad public consultation committee has heard.

The committee also heard suggestions for compulsory school education and a Government-funded campaign, similar to those run by the Road Safety Authority.

The committee was holding a meeting in public session to contribute to a report on farm safety.

Connie O’Driscoll from Mizen Rovers GAA club in west Cork said young people and farmers looked up to high-profile GAA players, so their involvement would carry significant weight. He said the Irish Countrywomen’s Association should also be targeted as men were more likely to listen to their partners.

Mr O’Driscoll said the Goleen club got involved in campaigning for farm safety because it had fewer than 100 players and every one was vital. “Players’ jerseys should be on players’ backs on the field, definitely not on coffins,” he said.

Transition year student Patrick Duffy (16), from Ballybay, Co Monaghan, told the hearing that five children had been killed on farms last year. Some 22 children died between 2005 and 2014. “That’s an extraordinarily high number,” he said. The teenager has designed a board game to educate children about farm safety.

Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association president Patrick Kent said the costs of safety work could quickly add up: “All easy in theory but not so easy if you are struggling to put bread on the table and the bank refuses any extension on credit.”

Athlone farmer and councillor John Dolan said he knew five people who had died in farm accidents. He previously worked in the pharmaceutical industry and said the attitude of farmers was “totally different” from other industries. He would never had been allowed to bring his children into the factory “yet I never give a thought to bringing them on the farm”.

Meanwhile, Independent Senator Gerard Craughwell asked if all farms should carry a notice listing the number of accident-free days they had.

However, this was rejected by Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers’ Association president John Comer and Irish Farmers’ Association president Eddie Downey, who both said it would be too difficult for the families who had experienced a death.