Farming & Fisheries

‘Farmer bashing’ accusation levelled at Cork Co Council

March 26th, 2023 11:40 AM

By Jackie Keogh

Cllr John O’Sullivan said he had conerns over restrictions on farmers.

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An accusation that Cork County Council has ‘lost its moral compass’ in prosecuting farmers was totally rejected by an official at a meeting of the Western Divisional Committee.

Timoleague-based farmer and Fine Gael Cllr John O’Sullivan expressed ‘serious concerns’ in relation to the restrictions being placed on farmers.

Citing a recent court case, Cllr O’Sullivan claimed the farmer in question had been ‘put through the ringer.’ He said the judge accepted the man’s case, but Council officials had not.

‘If the officials decide they want to pursue a case, they are the judge and jury,’ was the accusation made by Cllr O’Sullivan. 

‘It’s farmer bashing, and the way it is being dealt with is just not good enough.’

The councillor called for ‘a public independent review’ of the way the Council is pursuing cases against farmers.

But Ted O’Leary, a senior executive officer with Cork County Council’s environment and emergency services directorate, who was deputising for the director of service, immediately pushed back on Cllr O’Sullivan’s allegation.

‘When it comes to legal proceedings,’ he said, ‘it is general policy that court action is taken as a last resort.

‘We are not judge and jury and I reject the suggestion that we don’t follow due process. 

‘We have to be very careful that we follow all of them.’

Mr O’Leary also challenged a remark made by Cllr O’Sullivan, in which he said the gardaí confer with the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), but there are no such controls within the Council.

‘We don’t use the DPP,’ Mr O’Leary said, ‘unless it is a matter like large scale dumping.’

Furthermore, the deputy director said the Council conducts interviews in accordance with due process.

Finally, Mr O’Leary told the councillor that there is a complaints procedure in which people who feel aggrieved can make a formal complaint.

‘Such a complaint,’ he said, ‘would be assessed, and taken seriously.’

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