Political pressure mounts for hedge-cutting extension

Further political voices have been added to the calls to allow an extension to the deadline for hedge-cutting, as farmers battle heavy floods and difficult conditions.

Earlier today, Tuesday, February 25, TD Mattie McGrath called on Josepha Madigan, the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, to allow an extension to the March 1 deadline for hedge-cutting. Now, another independent, rural-based TD has made a similar call.

“An extension needs to be granted to farmers who need to carry out some hedge-cutting on their land, as heavy rainfall in recent weeks has meant machinery cannot travel on land without causing significant damage,” said Roscommon-Galway TD Michael Fitzmaurice.

The fact of the matter is that land is totally waterlogged at the moment. Significant and relentless rainfall in recent weeks has meant you couldn’t dream of travelling on land with a tractor, particularly in the west of Ireland.

“Anyone who planned to carry out some hedge-cutting in 2020 were never afforded the opportunity due to the inclement weather and poor ground conditions,” the TD stressed.

Fitzmaurice is urging the authorities to grant an extension of one month to give farmers “a chance of getting some hedge-cutting done on their land if the weather turned in their favour”.

“I am calling on the minister to address this issue immediately. Hedge-cutting is essential work which is carried out on most farms. Some leniency has to be shown when weather conditions completely prevent this work from being done in the weeks leading up to a deadline,” he concluded.

‘Breathing space’

Fitzmaurice’s comments echoed earlier remarks from Mattie McGrath, who called for “breathing space” for farmers to deal with the inclement conditions.

“Farmers in many parts of the country have had to deal with huge pressures over the last few months… On top of those pressures, they are now facing additional severe challenges that have been created by the heavy rainfall,” the Tipperary TD said.

“All they are asking for is a small bit of breathing space to enable them to cut those hedges which may be presenting as a threat to road safety – but within a more flexible time-frame,” he added.