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Tyrone farmer James Irwin dies in harvester tragedy - family plunged into mourning

By Adrian Rutherford

Published 13/09/2016

A community is in shock after a husband-to-be died in a farming tragedy
A community is in shock after a husband-to-be died in a farming tragedy

A community is in shock after a husband-to-be died in a farming tragedy.

James Irwin was killed after an accident involving a combine harvester near Dungannon on Sunday.

Mr Irwin was aged in his 30s and engaged to be married.

He is the fifth person to die in a work-related farm accident so far this year.

Six people died in the whole of 2015.

Barclay Bell from the Ulster Farmers’ Union urged farmers to be wary of the risks while at their work.

“It is a sad reminder that farms are busy workplaces that can sometimes be dangerous,” he said.

“Farm safety continues to be an important issue across the industry and I would urge all farming families to redouble their efforts to stay farm safe following this tragic accident.”

Police said they received a report of the “sudden death” at Rhone Road at about 2pm on Sunday. The Health and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland (HSENI) is investigating.

Fermanagh-South Tyrone MP Tom Elliott said he was deeply saddened by the news.

“This tragedy illustrates that the agricultural industry carries a more significant risk than any other industry,” he said.

“Behind these statistics is a story of a grieving family, a community in shock and the need to make farms safer places to work and live in.

“I extend my sympathies to the grieving family at this dreadfully sad time.” Sinn Fein MLA Linda Dillon, who is chair of the Assembly’s agriculture committee, expressed her condolences to the Irwin family.

“This death on a farm in the Dungannon area will have shocked the local area and the wider farming community,” she said.

“Any death on a farm is one too many.

“I send my sympathies to the family and friends of this man at this difficult time.”

Lord Morrow, who is a DUP MLA for the area, spoke about the tragedy at Stormont yesterday.

He said it was vital that work continues to raise awareness of farm safety.

“I raised this matter on the floor of the Assembly at Question Time and indeed the entire House joined in passing on their condolences, as did the Minister for Economy Simon Hamilton,” he said.

“This latest tragedy demonstrates how difficult it is for farmers and I asked the minister for an assurance that the Health and Safety Executive’s high-profile media campaigns around farm accidents would continue.

“I was advised it was the minister’s intention to do all he and his department could to continue raising awareness.

“This is a very sad day for the Dungannon farming community and beyond.”

A spokesperson for the Health and Safety Executive said: “HSENI is investigating a fatal incident on a farm in the Dungannon area.

“Our thoughts are with the man’s family at this most difficult time.”

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