Farm organisations have reacted angrily to an article published by the Irish Wildlife Trust, in which its campaigns officer, Padraic Fogarty, accuses them of “lurching to the far right” when it comes to addressing climate and biodiversity issues.

The term “far right” is generally used to describe people or organisations with extreme nationalist, xenophobic, racist, religious fundamentalist, or other reactionary views.

In a lengthy blog piece, Fogarty wrote: “Irish farm organisations are increasingly lurching to the far right, happy to spread conspiracy theories, undermine scientists and their findings, and convince their members that their way of life is under attack by an urban elite that cares little for them or their values.

“It is an approach that sets them increasingly adrift not only from the direction of public policy but also public opinion.”

Removal requested by IFA

The IFA has formally written to the Irish Wildlife Trust, requesting that the article be removed immediately, and has described the far right reference as “completely unacceptable”.

The IFA had not received any response at time of going to print.

ICMSA president, Pat McCormack, described the article as “as surreal as it was silly”, and noted that it said “a great deal more about the attitude of some NGOs to legitimate farmer concerns than it would about Irish farming’s attitude to environmental change”.

McCormack added that he did not believe it was helpful to use “terminology imported from ideologically polarised US politics to describe a polite enquiry from, say, a concerned Offaly farmer to Bord na Móna about the possible effects of their massive rewetting project on his or her farm just over the hedge.

“If Mr Fogarty thinks that constitutes a ‘lurch to the far right’, then I’d say he’s alone on that. ICMSA has never – and will never – deny the science around climate change and challenge,” he said.

“We all need to start with respect for everyone’s position and concerns. Even where they differ – especially when they differ,” he added.

INHFA president, Vincent Roddy, said: “The Irish Wildlife Trust’s inclination towards name-calling and labelling serves as a telling reflection of their approach.

“As an organisation representing farmers who have witnessed first-hand the detrimental consequences of land designations over the past 25 years, we assert our right to express concerns regarding the nature restoration law.

“It is evident that this legislation will extend far beyond the scope of current designations, a conclusion easily reached through a rudimentary analysis.

“Typically, resorting to name-calling suggests a weakness in one’s own argument, which may very well be the case in this instance.”