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Dublin: 3 °C Saturday 29 February, 2020

Labour TD's bill would give public access to private land

The Dáil will today debate a bill from Robert Dowds, identifying privately-owned property to be used as recreational land.

Image: Goodluz via Shutterstock

THE DÁIL WILL today debate legislation which would guarantee public access to recreational lands, even if they are owned by private individuals or bodies.

The Access to the Countryside Bill, from Labour backbencher Robert Dowds, would give county councils the power to identify lands which they believe the public ought to have the right of access to, for recreational and amenity purposes.

However, it would also ensure that the private owners of those lands are indemnified from any legal action from a member of the public arising from an accident on that land.

Dowds argues that his bill would provide legal clarity in cases where lands are privately owned but fall into regular public use.

“If the experience of countries such as Scotland is anything to go by, then there is huge potential for job creation in rural areas if we can make Ireland a world class destination for outdoor walking,” Dowds said last month.

“As our current land access laws are the most restrictive in Europe, we are not reaching our potential in terms of giving tourists a good experience when they go walking. This Bill aims to change that by opening up some of the more beautiful parts of our country which are currently inaccessible.”

Today’s sitting is a delayed ‘first Friday’ sitting, where the Dáil meets on one Friday of each month to discuss Bills from the opposition or from backbench members of the government parties.

Read: ‘There’s no point in pretending that this is a Labour Govt’ – Labour TD

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Gavan Reilly

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