Farmers and people in rural areas are being urged to be "extra vigilant and take precautions" by Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue as Storm Barra hits the country.

"I am urging everyone to think safety first as we face into Storm Barra. This is set to be one of the strongest storms we have seen in some time.

"All life is precious, so we must take all steps to protect ourselves and each other. Farming and fishing are exposed more than most to such storms.

"The fishing fleet is particularly impacted as the force of the storm will be felt most along the western coastline. More generally, people should stay back from the shoreline and remain on high ground," he said.

Be prepared

Minister of State with responsibility for farm safety Martin Heydon said that farmers and all those in rural areas need to ensure that they are ready for the approaching storm.

"Farming is a high-risk occupation, and it is even more so when severe weather arrives. So, take the time to ensure that you and your farm are prepared for the approaching storm. This means taking the time to do a check of the farmyard to ensure loose objects and buildings are secure.

"Priority is obviously the safety of people and I would reiterate the advice that care should be taken. Wait until the storm abates to check on livestock or anything that may have become loose or displaced, wear a high-vis jacket, bring a mobile phone and make sure someone knows where you are going."

Minister Heydon also asked people "to check on elderly neighbours in rural areas and, importantly, avoid any risks".

Fallen trees

He also reminded landowners of the dangers of fallen trees, in particular the impact this can have on electric wires.

The assessment of damage in such circumstances should only be carried out by appropriately trained professionals from the ESB. Where ESB cables are not impacted, great care should be taken in removing such trees and especially in the use of chainsaws.

For animal welfare issues connected with severe weather, farmers are advised to keep in touch with their Teagasc adviser or to contact the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine Animal Welfare Helpline on 076-106 4408 or 01-607 2379.

IFA urges caution

Irish Farmers' Association (IFA) Munster regional chair Harold Kingston has advised farmers, particularly those in the red alert areas, to take every precaution over the next 48 hours as Storm Barra hits.

He advised farmers to check their farmyards and put in place whatever safety procedures are needed to safeguard themselves and their livestock until the storm passes.

"Farmers should review whatever measures they normally take when Met Éireann issues a storm advisory. Check buildings, gates, doors, vehicles and equipment to ensure they are secure," he said.

Kingston also advised farmers to use the time between now and the storm landing to have all precautions in place.

"Met Éireann’s advice is that there will be gusts in excess of 130km/hr. Anybody farming near coastal areas should be very vigilant," he said.

He also asked farmers to check with any neighbours who may be isolated and to give them whatever assistance they can.

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