Farmer seriously injured in accident

A RATHFRILAND farmer was lucky to escape with his life after a serious accident at the weekend.

Jim McConnell is understood to have been left with serious injuries which will see him unable to walk for around six months.

It is thought he was changing the hydraulics on a piece of farm machinery when the accident happened, although the details remained unclear last night.

Local farming representatives have extended their sympathies to Mr McConnell’s family.

“My thoughts are with them all at this time,” said Ulster Farmers’ Union Senior Group Manager Rodney Rankin.

“Unfortunately this kind of thing is an all too common occurrence. Farming is a risky occupation. Statistics from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) show that agriculture comes above construction and other occupations when it comes to the amount of risk involved.”

Jo-Anne Dobson MLA, who sits on Stormont’s Agriculture Committee, said the dangers of farming cannot be forgotten.

“Farming is a wonderfully rewarding career choice, however we are constantly reminded that it can be an incredibly dangerous one,” said Mrs Dobson.

“I send my best wishes to the farmer, his family and friends for a speedy and healthy recovery.”

In July the HSE said 20 people have died in farming incidents in the past 19 months.

Mrs Dobson added that she believes the current pricing structure in farming can present dangers in some cases - although there is nothing to suggest this is the reason in this accident.

“I have previously pointed out that there is a direct link between falling farm gate prices and the risks associated with farm accidents caused by increasing workload,” said the UUP agriculture spokeswoman.

“I have called on the Sinn Fein Agriculture Minister to help to bring stability to the farming industry in Northern Ireland which, as well as ensuring a fair price for farmers will also lead to a safer working environment.”