Hill walkers must have respect for farmers’ property rights and must abide with the countryside code, chair of the Cooley IFA branch Matthew McGreehan has said.

“At this difficult time for our country, it is great that people can get out in the fresh air and exercise in the countryside on the designated trails and hopefully keep the coronavirus away as far as possible.

“But farmers have asked me to remind recreational users they must have respect for farmers’ property rights and must abide with the countryside code.

“Hill walkers are not allowed to bring their dogs to the Cooley Mountains for a walk whether they are on a lead or not or whether the dog is big or small,” he said.

Abide by the rules

People are very welcome to come if they abide by the rules, farmers just like everyone else in society are trying to deal with life as it is at the moment, he said.

“It is also a very busy time of year on farms with lambing coming into full swing soon and farmers who have agreed many walking routes with Louth County Council are feeling very aggrieved when they see the blatant disregard some people have for them and their property rights and their way of life.

“Also, I have been contacted by a farmer in the Jenkinstown area [who] has land adjoining the forest and people are bringing their dogs for a walk in the forest and letting them run loose and in turn the dog is wandering down into the farmer’s field and chasing his sheep which are heavy in lamb,” he said.

While farmers have no say whether Coillte allows people to walk their dogs in their forest or not, one thing is for sure they certainly do not have any right to allow their dogs wander off, McGreehan said.

Not a national park

The Cooley Mountains are not a national park and some areas are privately owned and other areas are held in common by farmers who have shares on the mountain just like, for example, some people may have shares in a business, he added.

“At this time, we want to emphasise that people are welcome to come and walk, but a little bit of respect and consideration for others will go a long way,” he said.

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