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to our Native Landscape
In the Landscape Alliance Ireland submission on the then proposed
Irish government new Planning and Development Bill 1999, I included
a section on rights of way in the landscape, intended to challenge
the government to respond to the difficult rights of way conflict
in Ireland, by exploring some new or different approaches.
The piece was published in our newsletter of Summer 2000 and it excited
strong responses from both sides of the conflict, namely Joe Rafferty,
West of Ireland farmer, and Roger Garland of the Keep Ireland Open
of Way (as submitted by Terry O'Regan, L.A.I.)
issue of rights of way requires to be addressed in an integrated manner
at a national, regional, county and local level.
This is necessary at the very least if we are to avoid a growing list
of local angry confrontations such as have occurred recently in Donegal
As a people we have an unhealthy attitude with regard to the ownership
For historical reasons Ireland has a poorly developed network of established
rights of way. We therefore need to decide where public rights of
way are required on an area by area basis.
Rights of way have a wide range of functions to serve in both urban
and rural settings, and this has to be recognised in any overall assessment.
Having decided on the appropriate network of rights of way required
to serve the needs of the total community, a process of consultation
and negotiation must be entered into to address issues such as compensation,
maintenance costs, insurance and rules of usage.
We would recommend that each county should establish a rights of
way forum, and that nationally there should be a rights of
way commission established with the objective of resolving these
issues on a planned basis within a defined time framework.
There is a need to distinguish between clearly defined public rights
of way, providing access through the landscape of Ireland, and informal
rights of way across property.
In the case of private property, is it not time to consider the concept
of a right of way licence, in the same way as we have a licence for
The system would involve walkers purchasing a licence covering the
area or county where they wish to walk. For the cost of the licence
they would be insured against all possible accidents and the landowner
indemnified, and they would receive a licence together with a special
numbered sticker for their vehicle and information on the participating
landowners in the county, together with a code of practice for behaviour
when walking through private property.
Participating landowners might receive an annual payment from the
The licence details and the vehicle sticker would provide a landowner
with crucial information in the event that they wished to complain
about the behaviour of walkers on their property.
Obviously this concept requires considerable research and development,
and it is suggested as a means of addressing some of the less than
pleasant incidents that have arisen in recent years, and to put in
place an organised procedure for providing formal and informal access
to the landscape.
to the above submission from Joe Rafferty, West of Ireland farmer,
Roundstone, Co. Galway.
Artificially created non acceptance or the visible disability to understand
the "now" position, must create a "rarity in perception"
for the rural strive position, towards some degree of positive thought
and knowing, in our official families.
The most difficult person to discuss a problem with is the person
paid to say "no".
Decisions are the choice of those in such positions, in many cases,
reflective of the minority decisions against the public needs, cementing
up the tottering positions we are presented with.
The resulting objection, and/or fight, is taken as being against authority,
but nothing is further from the truth. It is official blame caused
by selective deafness and not much understanding of or sympathy for
the discussed position, from the rural perspective.
Those persons of officialdom have attained the highest educational
standards in academia but regretfully, not in common sense or understanding
with their client base. That's a tragic position!!
One now is aware that there is a crude system of imposition, bribery
and "brown envelope" syndrome, prevalent in our political
and business lives.
One must now suspect the ability and quality of people promoted, to
lead the 'national' thinking in different areas of government.
One has serious suspicions that it was not merit but the "search"
system of promotion that was employed. Such appears at rural level,
to be the cause of so many punitive rules and draconian inspections
and inspectors - giving rise to the fear they will be found out, if
ever they drop their guard.
Rural living forces this perception on the ordinary punter, when the
full implications of the many directives are examined.
We are aware that there are fantastic schemes and ideas coming up
from the people - the bottom-up section of society at the grass roots!
But the twain never fuse - again rural belief is now accepting that
these top people are afraid to face the base rural ideas for survival.
Possibly 3 reasons exist for this situation:
- The bottom-up
ideas are more progressive
- There is
an inability to integrate such schemes, into official pre-cast
- Will acceptance
of these ideas cloud the political line to their benefactor, thus
losing their place in that line.
feeling is that most committees need to have a practising, practical
sociologist available to them - who would have a "field day".
We now are a nation divided at the lower levels of adhesion, one
to another, by many factors.
The inroads of television have exerted huge, serious, but not necessarily
beneficial influences on rural Ireland. In fact the "visiting
house" has all but gone, and with it the expressions of opinion
that played such a huge part in forming our thinking, be it objection
This "new era" has been well noted by our different departments,
they feel they can then try any rubbish "on", knowing
the "thought base" will not be rattled or serious objections
passed - so far!!!
The "pub warriors" are in a different more sophisticated
atmosphere as some patrons may not be a "known" element,
The Irish Farmers' Association in parts of rural Ireland has become
a non-identity, not raising a rural voice of objection, because
it will impinge on their "city" policy, cosy cartels with
departments, and with the major farmers, - all now appear to sing
from the same hymn sheet.
It's now about national perception and profile, not about living
and existing in the rural confines, on limited incomes and restricted
outlets of expression.
I am aware they have a fair rural base giving, so far, some support.
But one notices the cracks becoming visible, and the "directions"
slipping through, much to local surprise.
So your [T.O'Regan] observations on "rights of way" are
born into this living and there's a need to explain the concept
that's envisaged as these ideas free-flow from your pages to receptive
ears, conditioned by anti-rural thinking; but not the use and abuse
of any offering with our lands or property that they can get away
From the small rural farmers' point of view there are 8 points that
need clarification, ever before "money for trespass" is
allowed or even contemplated. Some of these points are interlinked.
But there are half of them that need much discussion and agreement
with the farmers.
Again I must come back to the throwaway line "as a people we
have an unhealthy attitude with regard to the ownership of land".
For one moment, we twist that sentence around to read "people
have an unhealthy attitude towards farmers owning their lands"
- which comes nearer the truth of the "Keep Ireland Open"
gospel as preached, and yes, even encouraged others to follow, their
abusive and walked-upon line towards small farmers.
Before "rights of way" are even put on any agenda, you
must establish the farmers' right to his property and his 8 point
basis must be brought into play after full discussion - but
not, and I repeat not, with the K.I.O. at any forum, anywhere.
They are not the solution but the ongoing problem; informal "rights
of way" have never, nor do not at present, exist on any western
From what you [T.O'Regan] are saying, we will then be "informally"
dead on our property.
I have had enough of the research and development, that has all
been done by the farmers, but the opinion appears rife that it must
be done by the likes of the K.I.O. and their hangers-on before it
becomes sacrosanct. No farmer will go down that road, nor do we
expect him to follow this line.
To put in place "organised procedure" to formalise rights
of entry to owned, private farmer's lands, enclosed or open, will
precipitate serious resistance. The action has been wrongly flagged
as simple, but it is not.
So far, Terry, have you followed this line of thought?
It has an aggression factor built-in that is not part of our own
making, it has been directed and created by the simple truth that
there are persons who think they own and can walk on everybody's
That must stop....... the existence of a right to privacy must be
acknowledged and the right to private property, yours, mine, my
locality, my area, my county, must first be a national requirement
- then, and only then, you can discuss a "right of way licence"
but don't hold your breath.
Conquest of the New World by Antoin O'hEocha, Sculptor
On a trip to the Desert Area of the South West of the U.S.A., one
is struck by the stark and dramatic beauty of the area. On a 2,000
mile loop starting from Albuquerque in New Mexico taking in Colorado,
Utah and Arizona, I and a friend visited the ancient ruins and sites
of the 'Hisatsinom' the ancestors of the Navajo, Hopi, Zuni and
Dine tribes amongst others. The sophistication of the building skills
of these ancient pueblo peoples left us in awe. It was not only
the precision of the building techniques, but the more important
cosmic criteria that made us realise we were standing in the footsteps
of a highly sophisticated, supremely spiritual people.
There is one great example of the culture of these peoples which
remains as an enduring testament to the 'Hisatsinom'. This place
is called Chaco Canyon, New Mexico. Situated in and around the canyon
are amazing pueblos the most impressive being pueblo bonito. Abandoned
due to the water table dropping, these peoples moved to more fertile
Ironically the Dine tribe, whose ancestors are the 'Hisatsinom'
are now facing a disastrous predicament today in the form of European
Americans' continuing greed for native Americans' resources. It
is believed that the Peabody Mining company has been extracting
water on a massive scale from aquifers under the Dine's ancient
tribal lands. This alleged illegal extraction, if allowed to continue,
will result in drought, starvation and death.
The Dine are not only facing this dilemma, but are also said to
be subject to harassment by Agents of the B.I.A. (The Bureau of
Indian Affairs), who regularly destroy the Dines' 'hogans', living
shelters, and forcibly take away their livestock, mostly sheep.
This is leading to the annihilation of the tribe, as they are shepherds
It appears that the U.S. Government wish to re-house the tribe on
more barren unworkable lands, without their consent, with a minuscule
amount of dollars being offered as compensation. For a tribe who
have lived in perfect harmony with their surroundings in Black-Mesa,
near Flagstaff, Arizona, this will spell catastrophe for the Dine.
Another extremely disturbing fact is that the proposed re-location
lands allegedly contain contaminated areas with nuclear waste and
This to any sane, normal thinking person amounts to no less than
genocide. These people desperately need our support and media attention.
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