I write to congratulate Fintan O’Toole on his excellent article on the lack of rights of way in the Irish countryside (IrishTimes, 22nd. July). He correctly mentions that considerable sums of public money are being spent on what is termed permissive access to the countryside which can be and, sometimes is, withdrawn. He also mentions some unjustified removals of access in Co. Mayo.
It is worth pointing out that there are glaring examples of rights of access being removed or blocked all over the country. For example, a landowner in Co. Donegal blocked an ancient pathway towards a viewpoint of the Pollet Sea Arch on the Fanad Peninsula. Other landowners had to be paid by Donegal Co. Council to open up an alternative route to see the sea arch. As that access is permissive, it could be withdrawn. Other beauty spots in counties such as Kerry, Cork and Wicklow have also been blocked for walkers. There are even fears that the blocking of access to the grounds of Howth Castle is being considered.
For the sake of the Irish public and tourists from overseas this problem needs to be sorted. Legislation guaranteeing and extending access along the lines of that which exist in the UK and on the Continent needs to be enacted. There will be winners all round then, the Irish public, tourists and the rural economy. Our physical and mental wellbeing will benefit too. Over to you in the political world!
Keep Ireland Open.