Sites such as old ruins and buildings on private land are being advertised as “places of interest to visit” without, in some cases, the knowledge of the landowner, the AGM of the Irish Natura and Hill Farmers’ Association (INHFA) heard last week.

The farm organisation AGM took place last Thursday (June 2), with Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Charlie McConalogue in attendance.

Addressing the minister from the floor, one farmer claimed that local sites were being publicised as potential locations to visit, but that often this is not made known to the landowner or farmers on whose land these sites are to be found.

“Monuments, trails, old buildings and old ruins are advertised by tour operators and local authorities as places of interest to visit.

“There’s a liability issue with that, because in most cases, the landowner isn’t aware of it being advertised by these [groups],” the INHFA member asserted.

He added that there is concern “right across the country” among the farming community over the recreational use of land, asking the minister what can be done to address the situation.

In response, Minister McConalogue said: “It’s a fair point, and it is a concern.”

The minister noted that there is legislation being drafted at the moment which, he said, could address “the balance of responsibility to better provide cover to those who own property or own land and to put more of the responsibility on those who would be using it or availing of it”.

“So I think it is important that we do look to see how that could be rebalanced because it is something that has been contributing significantly to insurance premiums and to pay outs,” the minister argued.

He added: “All of the responsibility and all of the risk has been on land owners and providers, and not enough in relation to personal responsibility [of land users].”