Members of the Kerry IFA and local MEPs have called on the Department of Agriculture to remove the penalties that have been imposed on farmers over burned land.

However, the Department maintains that EU regulations state the burned land will not be eligible for payment this year.

In April, fires destroyed 2,000ha of the park and spread to adjoining farmland.

According to a Garda investigation into the incident, no evidence of criminality was found and farmers burning for land clearance was ruled out.

Under the law, if land is burned in the closed period from 1 March to 31 August, it is not eligible for the Basic Payment Scheme.


There are about eight farmers who will lose out on payments this year, all of whom have land adjoining Killarney National Park.

A local farmer who had land burnt near the Gap of Dunloe, who did not want to be named, told the Irish Farmers Journal: “It’s scary and it’s sad, why should we pay for something we didn’t do?

“I thought we might be subsidised for our land being burnt and instead we got a penalty.”

The farmer said that it’s hard to tell whether he has lost stock as a result of the fire.

I don’t know if they are still in the cliffs or if they are burnt out of it

“The cliffs are massive here, I don’t know if they are still in the cliffs or if they are burnt out of it.

“We will be gathering the sheep soon and we will be doing a stock take,” said the farmer.

“If there is a major loss of stock, who’s going to pay for those animals?” he questioned.

The farmer believes that the national park needs to take responsibility and take action to prevent a fire from spreading on to his land in the future.

Firefighters tackling a gorse fire.

“They can come on to my land and tell me I can’t spray a rush or open a drain, but they don’t have to take responsibility for a fire that was started in the park,” he added.

Another local farmer, who farms close to Black Valley but managed to escape the fires, said that many farmers fear speaking out against the national park.

“The national park has unbelievable power over farmers in this area and that’s why many of us are reluctant to talk about what has happened out of fear of repercussions,” said the farmer.

“If the fire started on the farmers' land and burnt into the national park, I wonder would they be the ones paying the price?” he questioned.


IFA Kerry chair Kenneth Jones said: “It’s beyond unbelievable that a person can be held responsible for something beyond their control.

“I question the management of the national park going forward and if something isn’t done we are going to be in a similar situation again.”

Jones said that after discussions with the fire department he was told 'there was no problem controlling the fire once it came on to the farmers' land'.

He believes that this is because most of the farmers in the area manage their land effectively, have less vegetation to burn and have it grazed properly.


“The management in Killarney National Park cannot abdicate their responsibility on this because of the fact that it was on their land,” said Jones.

IFA hill farming chair Flor McCarthy said that it is potentially a serious health and safety issue.

“If farmers think their payments will be compromised if their land is burnt, then they might try and stop the fire coming in on their land.

“Unfortunately, you can’t block a fire and someone is going to end up seriously injured,” he said.

He continued: “What this also highlights is how easy it is for someone who doesn’t like their neighbour to light a match and take him out of his payments.

“It’s totally unacceptable from the IFA point of view that farmers will be without their money this year,” added McCarthy.

Ireland South MEP Seán Kelly said that although parts of Europe have been devastated by wildfires in recent months, this "heavy-handed approach" does not seem to apply anywhere else.

The Fine Gael MEP has written to the Minister for Agriculture, as well as the European Commissioner for Agriculture, regarding this issue and hopes that these sanctions will be withdrawn.

Killarney National Park has been contacted, but was unavailable for comment.