Thousands of farmers’ confidential documents found on Tuam road

Papers relate to Department of Agriculture Scheme and contain sensitive information

An investigation is underway into how thousands of farmers' documents containing sensitive information were scattered on the roadside outside Tuam, Co Galway.

Many of the documents relate to the Rural Environment Protection Scheme which was run by the Department of Agriculture. They contain details such as farmers' names, addresses, herd numbers, payment details and maps of farms.

The documents were strewn along a 10 km section on the Athenry Road as far as Ballyglunin. They also included letters from farmers to the Department, laboratory results on soil samples and breakdowns of farmers' entitlements and payments. One document contains a signature with a 1991 date while another detailing the breakdown of a farmer's payments was dated 2010.

The Department of Agriculture said it had been in touch with Galway Co Council about the incident, " . . . and we understand that the papers are the property of a private agricultural consultant, not the department, and that the county council is dealing with the matter". It did not say who the consultant was.


Issue raised

Galway Co Council has not yet responded to questions about the issue. The matter was raised by local Independent councillor Karey McHugh on her Facebook page on Sunday night. Her sister had alerted her to the dumping of the documents when she drove on the road earlier that evening.

“When I drove the road myself I was completely shocked and disgusted to see large stretches of the road covered in what seemed to be lots and lots of documents,” Cllr McHugh said.

“There seems to be a whole mix of documentation. There’s forms, there’s maps, there’s payslips. There’s application forms with a mix of details about people, names, addresses, dates of birth, that sort of thing,” she said.

Cllr McHugh contacted the litter warden and many of the documents have since been removed. She said she had raised the issue at Monday’s council meeting.

“Documents of this nature shouldn’t be on a public road. You would imagine that this sort of stuff should be shredded.Why wasn’t it disposed of correctly?”

Alison Healy

Alison Healy

Alison Healy is a contributor to The Irish Times