Calls to speed up Rural Social Scheme recruitment
A number of places were announced that could be filled by farmers but the recruitment process has been slow.

Recruitment and filling of places for new applicants to the Rural Social Scheme (RSS) needs to be accelerated, according to Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Regional, Rural, Gaeltacht & Island Affairs Éamon Ó Cuív.

The RSS provides a weekly social welfare payment of €220.50 for active farmers who provide 19.5 hours of work in their rural area.

“Earlier this year, the Rural Social Scheme was expanded, with the total number of participants increasing to 3,350,” Deputy Ó Cuív said.

I will be continuing to press this issue with Minister Doherty

“At the time of the announcement, there were 2,948 participants on the scheme and I am growing increasingly concerned about the low level of take up since then.”

This year's 250 new RSS places follow the allocation of 500 new places in the previous year's budget after a 10-year freeze.

Ó Cuív has called on the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection, Regina Doherty, to accelerate recruitment to the RSS.

Places available

“Despite the fact that there are nearly 7,000 people receiving Farm Assist, the number of people on the Rural Social Scheme has only increased by 22 participants to 2,970 since March. This means that there are still 380 places available on the Rural Social Scheme,” Ó Cuív said.

“My office has been contacted by numerous people seeking to secure a place on the Rural Social Scheme. It is imperative that the recruitment process is accelerated so that these additional places are filled and people can begin undertaking this important work.

“I will be continuing to press this issue with Minister Doherty to ensure that the scheme is efficiently rolled out over the coming months.”

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Summer holidays a high risk time for children on farms – HSA
The HSA and primary school principals have joined forces to promote farm safety before high-risk summer holiday period.

Summer holidays are a high-risk time for children who are off school and spend a lot of time on their family farm or visiting friends’ and relatives’ farms.

It is also a very busy time for farmers when much work needs to be done.

The Health and Safety Authority (HAS) and the Irish Primary Principals Network (IPPN) have issued a joint appeal to primary schools to promote a strong farm safety message to children before they break for the summer.

Farm accidents have claimed the lives of 23 children in the last decade and account for 11% of all farm fatalities over the period.

Farms remain the only workplace in Ireland where children still continue to die. Farm deaths involving children are always a horrific tragedy for families and heartbreaking for communities and schools alike.

The HSA website has numerous online farm safety resources for teachers to use in the classroom which can be covered in an interactive, fun and stimulating way. IPPN is supporting the HSA in communicating this important message to its members.

HSA education manager Joanne Harmon said: “Teachers can access a range of online farm safety resources for primary schools on our website at www.hsa.ie/education, under teacher supports and resources and some are available as gaeilge.

“These can be run on the classroom whiteboard or printed off to photocopy.

“The HSA’s elearning portal also hosts a short course entitled Keep Safe on the Farm which can be found at http://hsalearning.ie. This is aimed at primary school children and comes with teachers’ guidelines and is linked to the SPHE curriculum.”

Harmon added that farm safety is an explicit topic in the SPHE curriculum at primary level.

“Schools can make a real difference by empowering children to raising their own awareness of farm hazards and encouraging them to bring the safety message home to parents and grandparents,” she said.

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Two injured in under-age tractor driving incident
Police in Northern Ireland said two juveniles were injured in an incident with a tractor driven by a third one.

The PSNI's Cookstown unit said on its Facebook page that it joined two ambulances and paramedics at the scene in Coagh, Co Tyrone this Sunday.

"Two juveniles fell from a tractor being driven by a third juvenile," police said. "Both sustained injuries significant enough that they required transfer by ambulance to hospital. The tractor should not have been on the road and should not have been carrying passengers."

Officers have prepared a file for the Public Prosecution Service against the driver for "a range of offences," adding that the incident "could have been a lot worse".

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