Fianna Fáil agriculture spokesperson in the Seanad Senator Brian Ó Domhnaill has called on the Government to provide compensation to Farmers who’s fencing and agricultural infrastructure was destroyed in the gorse fires which swept many parts of the country four weeks ago.
Making the call on the adjournment debate in Seanad Éireann last night Ó Domhnaill said: “The gorse fires that took place across many parts of the Country including County Donegal between April 30th and May 5th caused widespread damage. Donegal County Council is facing a bill of €400,000 which relates to 169 fire incidents that the Council responded to across the County.”
“While the amount of land damaged is not yet fully known the Donegal County Manager has reported that an estimated 3% of the total land mass of the County was damaged with over 7,700 hectares of land in the Dungloe-Doochary area alone damaged with approximately 550 hectares of Coillte Forestry land in the County damaged, in addition to 3 private forestry’s in Dungloe, Portnoo and Glenties.”
“While the damaged caused was substantial, fortunately no one was seriously injured or lives lost and to this end I would like to pay a huge tribute to the Council, the Fire Services Local Volunteers, the Army, An Garda Síochana and the Civil Defence for the tremendous work carried out during the very challenging conditions brought about by the fire.”
“However now in the aftermath of the fire many farmers have had fencing and agriculture infrastructure destroyed. These farmers simply cannot financially afford to install replacement fencing and as such I am tonight calling on the Minister to ensure a compensation package is put in place to allow farmers obtain grant aid to install replacement fencing.
He said he response he has received in the Seanad from the Minister for State at the Department of Agriculture, Shane McEntee TD, was not very encouraging and outlined clearly that the Government did not intend to provide compensation to farmers for the damage caused during the spate of wildfires. “The Government have outlined that damage to such property is a matter for individual farmers. I find this response totally unacceptable.”
“Minister McEntee did however state that if the farming groups in County Donegal submitted figures outlining the extent of the damage caused that he would given consideration to having a look at providing some level of compensation.”
“Therefore I urge all farmers to liaise with their respective Farming Body in order that a comprehensive breakdown of the cost of damages can be submitted to the Minister for consideration.”