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Safety campaigner farmer John McClean under fire for posting 'kids in the cab' tractor video

By Claire McNeilly

Published 01/11/2016

John McClean in his tractor with his two children
John McClean in his tractor with his two children
The footage captured on farmtv.com

A farmer who campaigns on safety issues has posted a video of himself giving his two young children a high-speed ride in a turbo-charged tractor.

John McClean, from Co Antrim, is the man behind farmtv.com - a website committed to supporting health and safety on Northern Ireland farms.

Bizarrely, the video of the tractor incident sits alongside warnings from Mr McClean about the dangers, and tragic consequences of, rushing to meet the recent slurry deadline.

He ends one video with the words "Be careful, farm safe", and on his Facebook site he writes: "You're making us think about how to operate safely, so give us your tips to staying safe..."

Mr McClean did not respond to questions about the video.

Former Ulster Farmers Union president Ian Marshall commended Mr McClean for his attempts to heighten awareness around safety issues in the industry, but he said that children should not be in a moving tractor.

"We have to raise a note of caution with all farmers as regards carrying children in tractors because we know it is dangerous," said Mr Marshall.

"Glarryford farmer Wallace Gregg's eight-year-old son James fell out of a tractor last year and was badly injured.

"We know that farmers on some occasions carry children in tractors, but we recommend that farmers look at the regulations and understand the guidance on this and be responsible because tractors are dangerous machines."

The caption accompanying the video clip 'Do you want to Smoke or Po?', which was posted on farmtv.com on October 27, reads: "Our newest member... needed a little education about Turbo-Po." To date it has had almost 46,000 views on Facebook and almost 4,000 on YouTube.

The Health and Safety Executive's website states: "It is against the law to allow a child under 13 to ride on or drive agricultural self-propelled machines (such as tractors) and certain other farm machinery."

The video starts off with his daughter, who is wearing a red hairband and whose blonde hair is tied up in a ponytail, asking: "Why is there a camera?"

She's wearing a white polo shirt under a dark grey pinnafore, which resembles a school uniform, and is sitting, unsecured, on her father's left.

John replies: "Because I'm going to record it. You wanted to see a video, didn't you?"

Both children are then told to "Look at mammy and wave" and, in the background, a woman can be seen waving from the window of a house.

The tractor then takes off and the little boy, who is also unsecured and perched beside the door on his dad's right hand side, wearing jeans and a blue Superman sweatshirt, says: "I'm holding on tight."

The girl, who is laughing as they drive along the road with plumes of smoke coming out of the tractor's exhaust pipes, then says: "Now we're doing smoking. Do that again."

During the short clip, which lasts about a minute, a small red Fiat car can be seen driving along the narrow country road, along with other vehicles.

Posting a comment beneath the video, Mark David wrote: "It's one thing putting your kids in a tractor for a sail but videoing it and sticking it on Facebook for all to see is not wise.

"You rattled on about this slurry ban and the dangers of slurry. What about the dangers of carrying that precious load in the tractor cab? Engage the brain young John..."

A Health and Safety Executive spokeswoman said: "The HSENI is aware of this video on Facebook and is currently making enquiries."

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