to law would have avoided cut knee judgment
Wall: admitted she had not looked where she was going
Keep Ireland Open welcomes the decision to overturn the Circuit Court
judgment which awarded
to a hillwalker who fell and cut her knee while traversing a boardwalk
on the Wicklow Way.
But we do so in the knowledge that the whole case could
and should have been avoided if the government had made a simple tweak
to Ireland’s public liability legislation.
organisations and a number of landowners had made it plain that they
regarded the original judgment handed down last April as yet another
reason to restrict public access.
The original judgment made in favour of Teresa Wall from
Swords, Co Dublin, was narrow in its focus and held that man-made
structures, such as the boardwalk, incurred a higher level of duty of
care than the landscape itself.
Under the 1995 Occupiers’ Liability Act, users cannot
claim damages against landowners unless they can show that a landowner
has behaved in a way which he or she knew was likely to cause injury.
The Circuit Court judgment had held that a higher duty of care applied
to man-made structures. Until the initial Wall judgment, no walker or
other leisure user had successfully sued a landowner since the 1995
Act was passed.
the Wall judgment had been let stand, then there is a good chance that
the National Parks and Wildlife Service would have felt it necessary
to close down some
or even all of the boardwallks around the country. It would
also have called stiles and bridges on private and State land into
question if they were held to a higher level of duty of care
In the High Court appeal Judge
Michael White dismissed Ms Wall’s claim on the grounds that
she had admitted not been paying close attention to where she was
walking at the time of her fall, which had led to her receiving seven
stitches to a knee injury.
the “mechanism of her fall”, the judge found a “high degree of
negligence” on Ms Wall’s part due to her not looking at the
surface of the boardwalk when she fell.
The really silly thing is that the two expensive court
cases which Ms Wall’s cut knee has spawned could easily have been
avoided if the government had simply closed the loophole relating to
For that is exactly what the UK government did when
they spotted the danger of liability from man-made structures back in
1999. They then promptly amended their Occupiers’ Liability Act to
exclude liability when walkers injured themselves on man-made
own government could have taken a leaf from the UK’s book if they
had not, as usual, been fast asleep at the wheel when it comes to
introducing legislation in relation to public access.
Needless to say, we have pointed this out to the
government and recommended that they legislate accordingly. Let’s
hope they do.
Your AGM is on May 13
— be there
Keep Ireland Open AGM will be held at the An Oige headquarters in 61
Mountjoy Street, Dublin 7 on Saturday, May 13. Coffee will be served
from 11am and the meeting will begin at 11.30. We hope to have a
speaker, yet to be confirmed, who will take us through the long battle
to retain access to Fenit Island in Kerry.
Free secure parking parking is available at the rear of the
building. You just need to check in with reception.
has his head in the sand over greenway failures
€9m in public funds is earmarked for greenways but there is still no
permanent right of public access to them
the expenditure of almost €3.5m,
the government still cannot give a date for the opening of the South
Kerry between Glenbeigh and Renard.
and Transport Minister Shane Ross (Ind) told Labour TD Alan Kelly that
the long-promised route along an old railway line has run into
difficulties with landowners. He also cited what he described as
design and funding problems.
in the Dail in January about the progress of the South Kerry and other
greenways, Mr Ross promised new policies on how these routes are to be
created but admitted that he still could not give a completion date of
the long-delayed South Kerry route.
project, as with a number other proposed greenways, has been beset by
objections from landowners, many of whom have illegally squatted on
disused railway lines over the
years and now are demanding compensation for allowing routes to
go ahead. They have consistently enjoyed the backing of the main
farming organisations for their outrageous demands.
Shane Ross: Failing
to grasp nettle on squatters
if he has the will to confront the farming organisations (which we
doubt), Mr Ross will find his hands tied by his partners in
government, Fine Gael, who have long operated a policy of never
introducing laws which upset the farming organisations.
is likely to lead to the continuing ridiculous position whereby the
State is persuaded that it should pay out taxpayers’ money in
compensation in order for the public to continue to cycle along routes
which belong, by rights, to Iarnrod Eireann. Only clear public
ownership of the routes can ensure that they remain open.
much-vaunted Newport to Mulranny Greenway in Co Mayo shows the dangers
of ‘by agreement’ deals because it has been closed three times in
recent years when individual landowners have withdrawn their consent
and blocked the route over disputes with the Department of Agriculture
and Mayo Co Council.
This despite several million euros of public money having been
spent on the route.
Ross needs to completely rethink the basis upon which public money is
poured into greenways. Money should only be spent where the public has
a permanent right of access and no deals should be done which leave
that right in doubt.
we are now talking about substantial proposed expenditure. In addition
to the €3.5m
proposed for the South Kerry greenway, Mr Ross told the Dail that
Galway Co Council is to receive 2m for the proposed Moycullen to
Galway route, Tipperary almost €2m
for Clonmel to Carrick-on-Suir, Longford €513,000
for Abbeyshrule to Ballymahon and Meath Co Council almost €2m
for the Cloncurry to the Blackwater aquaduct, which is part of the
proposed Dublin to Galway greenway. Longford Co Council is to receive €513,000
for the Abbeyshrule to Ballymahon route and Westmeath almost €500,000
for the Garrycastle two Whitegates route.
Meanwhile, more than €840,000
to Kildare for the Spin Bridge to Chambers Bridge greenway.
other words, Mr Ross is proposing to spend more than €9m
of public money on routes to which the public will not have a
permanent protected right of access. Talk about a hostage to fortune!
is madness and not one cent more should be spent until the law has
secured an absolute unfettered right of public access to every
heats up to 19 million Euro plan for site at Hellfire Club
of the Hellfire Club: Ambitious plans for interpretative centre
Ireland Open is concerned at the scale of ambitious plans to develop a
visitor/interpretation centre at the Hellfire Club site on Montpellier
Hill in the Dublin Mountains.
planning application has been submitted at the time your newsletter
went to press and it seems that the plans, which have a projected cost
are still very much in their infancy. However, they have the
provisional backing of South Dublin County Council (SDCC), Coillte
addition to the proposed centre, there are outline plans for
car-parks, coach parks, a restaurant/cafe, at least two retail
units, and the requisite toilet facilities, lift, plant room, storage
etc. A tree top sky-walk, a zip-wire arrangement, is planned from the
Hellfire Club to Massy's Wood at the end of the mountain.
accepts that the Hellfire Club/Massy’s Wood area offers great
opportunities to introduce walkers and other recreational users to a
magnificent resource and would welcome a proportionate information
centre in the car parking area. However, that is a very different
proposition to what is being proposed.
are being kept up to date by Fine Gael Councillor Paula Donavan. A
local groups has been set up to oppose the plans. See www.savethehellfire.com
or www.facebook.com/SavetheHellfireClub for further details.
prepare Bill to change access law
David Healy: Drawing up Bill
Ireland Open has been working with the Green Party to prepare a Bill
which would extend the right to public access in Ireland.
Bill would be based on the Scottish Land Reform Act which opened up
almost all of Scotland to public access in the year 2000.
Healy, a barrister and Green Party activist, is preparing draft
legislation, which Green Party leader Eamon Ryan will endeavour to
bring to the floor of the house.
proposed law would make it legal for members of the public to access
all land unless there was a specific reason to exclude them, such as
environmental concerns. This right would not extend into people’s
gardens or the curtilage (the area immediately around) their homes.
legislation has worked extremely well in Scotland, opening up the
countryside to natives and visitors and virtually doing away with
disputes over whether there is or is not a right of access. It has
also proved boon to the Scottish economy, with officials claiming that
free access is worth more than £2 billion a year (approx
most of this money goes to economically depressed rural areas.
Let’s buy the land and let house sale go ahead
Luggala and Lough
Tay: Provides access to spectacular walks
over the planned sale of the Luggala house and estate by Garech de
Bruin has sparked justifiable fears that a number of famously
beautiful walks could be lost to the public. This has sparked calls
from a number of TDs for the State to step in and buy it as an
extension to the Wicklow Mountains National Park.
with a price tag of €28m,
it is unlikely that the government will take that course of action.
Anybody listening to the relevant Minister Michael Ring in the Dail
when he was questioned about the sale would be left in no doubt that
he was not interested in putting a large hole in his department’s
how about Mr Ring suggesting to Garech de Bruin that he might like to
sell most of the 5,000-acre estate to the State but sell the house
and, say, 100 acres around it, including the all-important shoreline
in front of the house, separately?
of the land that would be of interest to the National Park, and which
would enable the most dramatic and popular walks down
to Lough Dan and Lough Tay as well as to long-established walks over Fancy
Mountain and Knocknaclohogue, is either bog or low quality
agricultural land. Given the good will of Mr de Bruin, who has always
been generous with regard to public access, this land could be
purchased for a nominal sum, leaving him free to make a fortune by
selling the house and area around it separately.
KIO chairman Roger Garland wrote in the Irish Times letters page on
February 10: “Now to the value of the 4,900 acres. The Minister said
in his speech to the Dáil last week that the State had acquired a
similar acreage of mountain land at the Featherbed last year for
€800,000. Allowing for a higher value on the Luggala land, as it
includes some lowland grazing perhaps it could be acquired for
something around €1.5 million, which would represent excellent value
to keep this unique amenity open to the public.”
better solution would, of course, be to legislate to protect public
access to private land but, given that political cowardice and
short-sightedness makes that unlikely at the moment, a separate sale
of most of the land and the house would at least protect some of the
most popular and beautiful walks in the East of the country.
in a truthful minority, Minister
Na Tuaithe, Ireland’s toothless Countryside Commission, recently
presented an expensive consultant’s report into its ‘work’ to
Michael Ring, Minister for Regional Development.
report, a complete whitewash, tries to convince the Minister that CnaT
is doing great work in bringing together the various stakeholders in
the countryside. KIO has attended every meeting of CnaT over the last
13 years and the truth is much bleaker. Sadly, CnaT is a toothless and
useless quango which will not even discuss the need to legislate so as
to provide citizens of and visitors to Ireland with the kind of rights
of access which exist in every other European country. It is a meek,
powerless body that cannot show one significant achievement for its
dozen or more years of embarrassing existence.
has refused to allow its name to be appended to the report by
consultant Humphrey Murphy and has instead provided the Minister with
a minority report, which you can read on our website.
an eye out for illegal fencing
would like to remind members to please continue to send us instances
where a planning application is made for fencing or where fencing is
actually taking place.
in areas which were traditionally open for access require planning
permission and far too much open land has been lost in recent years
through totally inappropriate and unapproved fencing. Remember, you
are KIO’s eyes and ears!
Officers : a who's who
Recreation Officers have been appointed to look after walkways around
the country and to iron out problems where they can, given the lack of
legislative backing for their work. The following is the latest list
with their names first, the Leader Programme employing them, the walks
they are responsible for and their contact details.
Walk / Trail
Kilkenny Leader Partnership
Valley, Freshford Loop, O'Gorman's Lane
Local Development Company ltd.
Way, Sliabh Liag
9744937 or 087-9318077
Community & Enterprise Development Co Ltd.
8661900 or 087-7749281
Sligo LEADER Partnership Company ltd.
Way, Miner's Way
9141138 or 087-2431942
Integrated Development Company
Valley, Rinn Duinn, Miner's Way
66 30252 or 087-2775373
Integrated Development Company
Valley, Rinn Duinn, Miner's Way
66 30252 or 086-7713550
Kerry Development Partnership ltd.
Way, Cosán Cuas na nEighe, Hag's Glen Loop at Carrountoohill,
9761615 or 087-2031034
Tipperary Local Development Company ltd.
a 'Chnoic, Birch Hill, Knocknalough (Red Hugh), Slieve Feilim
Way, East Munster Way, Lough Derg Way, Tipperary Heritage Way,
Devil's Bit, Kilcommon Pilgrim Trail
Cork Development Partnership
Islands, Duhallow Way, Beara Way, Sheeps Head Way (including
Whiddy Island Walk)
Connemara ltd. (Galway)
Connemara, Western Way
593410 or 087-7375599
West Mayo Development Company ltd.
Way, Clogher Loops, Burrishoole Loop 1, Burrishoole Loop 2,
Croagh Patrick Heritage Trail
Clare Local Development Company ltd.
Way, Wood Loop Ballyvaughan, Black Head Loop, Cliffs of Moher
6866800 or 086-8122030
Published by Keep Ireland Open. KIO is an
environmental organisation dedicated to preserving public access to
our mountains, lakes, seashore and countryside.