Opinion

Jack Russell: What’s yours is mine and what’s mine is mine

Jack Russell – an informed industry writer – is always amused when The Irish Times turns its gaze on matters rural.

This usually involves a lavish opinion-editorial justifying its Foxrock readers ‘right to roam’ over farmers’ lands where that land is deemed to have a conveniently vague ‘public dimension’ as decided upon by some neutral body such as…er…Mountaineering Ireland.

It’s always worth reading about some dentist from Dundrum demanding the state vindicate his right to tramp his Le Chameau LCX 10in boots (a snip at €341) across some farm in Blessington.

Meanwhile, visualising – as Jack often does – the look on the dentist’s face if some ‘Wicklaaa’ sheep man declared that the manicured grass around the dentist’s carp pond was actually commonage and used the pages of The Irish Times to call on the Government to vindicate his right to graze it.

As far as The Irish Times’ readers are concerned, farmers’ land is ‘kind-of’ private and the state should recognise that ‘kind-of’ in law.

Their own gardens in Dublin, by contrast, are ‘absolutely private’ – as the state will learn the hard way when it CPOs two yards off their front gardens for the latest Dublin Transport Initiative.

Your land? Right-to-roam and access for everyone. Their land? Private property, old boy, and if you want a bit for the quality bus corridor, it’ll be €5,000/m², please.

But The Irish Times went past its usual ‘what’s yours is mine and what’s mine is mine’ fantasy recently.

And – after retrieving and donning its pair of corduroy-topped wellingtons from the boot of the Range Rover where they’ve nestled since the ‘Ploughing’ – it began picking its way across the slurry-splattered yard and over to the kind of farming story that makes its corporate lawyers’ hearts beat just a little faster.

This is the Glanbia and Ornua spat in which our friends in Kilkenny have rather cattily decided to launch their own ‘Truly Grass Fed’ brand in the US in direct competition against Ornua’s ‘Kerrygold’ brand.

In this, Glanbia might be assumed to have a proprietorial interest given that: (A) it have a 25% holding in Ornua; (B) it are Ornua’s biggest single supplier; and (C) the fact that it has two nominated directors sitting on the board.

The fact that Ornua chose to launch its ‘Truly Grass Fed’ brand in the middle of litigation brought by an American party that claimed that ‘Kerrygold’ was not, in fact, a grass-derived product, was either the most unfortunate coincidence in the history of litigation or it represented a giant wink of encouragement to the American involved.

The case has been subsequently dismissed. No frickin’ thanks to the lads in Kilkenny is the grumble Jack hears from all over Ireland, but especially around Mitchelstown.