Minister for Justice Helen McEntee has been called on to take action on what are being described as “organised gangs” allegedly trespassing on farmland.
The Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers’ Association (ICMSA) met with the minister this week to request that Gardaí look harder at the “growing countrywide problem” of gangs trespassing on farmland on the pretext of hunting, and the levels of intimidation and threat associated with this activity.
Pat McCormack, the association’s chairperson, told Minister McEntee that the ICMSA has received several complaints and reports regarding encounters between farmers and gangs trespassing on farms ostensibly for the purpose of hunting with dogs.
Speaking after the meeting. McCormack said: “The scale and intensity of these encounters is now rising rapidly, and I told Minister McEntee it was only a matter of time before one of these confrontations ended in serious injury – or worse – for one or more of the parties involved.
“What we are hearing time and again from the farmers is that these groups will not leave lands even after it has been pointed out that they are trespassing and have no permission. Nor do they seem bothered by the prospect of the Gardaí being called,” he added.
McCormack commented that the people involved “just seem to think they are above the law and actually revel in that belief”.
He said that individuals involved in these activities have posted footage on social media platforms in which they can be seen and heard threatening farmers with violence.
“That’s the reality now and its an everyday reality in very many places.”
The IMCSA is calling for an effective way of dealing with this issue through a more rigorous enforcement of the laws around driving and vehicles.
“We know again that so many of the individuals involved have multiple driving bans and that they will often be travelling in vehicles with no sign of road tax, insurance, or NCT [National Car Test],” the ICMSA president said.
He called for the Gardaí to confiscate these vehicles.
“There must be some way of practically hindering their ability to go where they want and do what they want on someone else’s property.
“We urged Minister McEntee to look at serious and immediate enforcement of the laws around licences, the NCT, and road tax as a first step,” McCormack remarked.
“Concerted focus is needed now through a campaign of increased Garda attention and action. It may be that legislation could be updated but perhaps stricter enforcement of existing laws is the short-term solution while more permanent options are looked at,” he added.