Irish farmers and rural communities must not be forgotten during the pandemic, Roscommon businessman and community activist Andrew Reynolds has said. Mr Reynolds argued that with proper precautions, and depending on the status of Covid-19, agricultural shows and festivals should be allowed to go ahead this summer.
“As we continue to do our best to adhere to the latest Covid restrictions as announced by Taoiseach Micheál Martin recently I would sincerely hope that the farmers of Ireland are not forgotten in this global crisis,” the Roosky businessman said.
Mr Reynolds said that every year members of the agricultural community have looked forward to and enjoyed agricultural shows in various different locations around the country.
“The most successful and popular is surely the National Ploughing Championships which has not only been a wonderful social event but has also brought in great revenue to the country, as has the Strokestown Show, the Virginia Agricultural Show, and the Moynalty Steam Threshing Festival,” he said.
“However, as with many other outdoor events last year, because of the threat of the spread of Covid 19, all four – and many others – fell victim to the virus and were cancelled.”
While it is hoped that some of these popular events will return this year, it will depend on the spread of Covid in the community as well as the number of hospitalisations, Mr Reynolds said.
“I firmly believe that if certain regulations are put in place such as specific social distancing measures, hand sanitising stations, and a limited number of people in attendance, it is possible – and indeed essential – for such festivals to go ahead,” he argued. “Hard-working committees have been planning for these for a long time and communities have already lost one long summer. The return of outdoor social events would be a welcome boost to towns and villages nationwide and would also help the mental health of people who are finding it hard to cope with the social isolation that comes with this pandemic.”
He hoped that the Government’s recent announcement on easing restrictions, “will see common sense prevail and a welcome return to our sense of community in these troubling times”.