'There is no free inch,' says jailed Sligo farmer

 

The Sligo farmer imprisoned for refusing to pay a fine for intimidating hill-walkers who had used his land last March said from prison last night: "There is no way in hell I will let walkers through my land for nothing." Seán MacConnell, Agriculture Correspondent, reports.

In a radio interview with RTÉ's Farm Week programme, Andy McSharry, from Grange, Co Sligo, said he was unrepentant about what had happened and would do the same again.

"I was 100 per cent right in what I did and I had to take a stand. There is no way farmers can give away our land to strangers," said McSharry, who styles himself "The Bull".

He said publicans and hoteliers were getting grants and money from walkers and tourists, but farmers were not getting anything.

"No matter what, we are talking about a pound and we must get our fair share," he said.

McSharry denied he had photographed the Meath couple who had come off his land when they were undressing last March and said he had shown the photographs he had taken to the judge.

Asked by presenter Damien O'Reilly how much he would be prepared to charge hill-walkers for using his lands, McSharry said he did not know."There is no free inch or no free land in this country," said McSharry, who is to be released from Loughan House prison on Monday morning.

McSharry, interviewed by phone from prison, was highly critical of the Irish Farmers Association for offering membership to hill-walkers and hunters and said the organisation had let him down. He said he had joined the rival Irish Cattle and Sheepfarmers Association.