Belfast Telegraph

Father speaks out on farm dangers

The devastated father of a six-year-old boy killed on a farm has said he hopes the tragedy will serve as a warning to others.

James Higgins drowned after falling into a soak-pit on his family farm near Shannonbridge, Co Offaly, in January 2008.

Reliving the horror of that day for a new farm safety campaign, the schoolboy's father Padraig Higgins said life was never the same again.

He said: "That day he (James) had to collect his glasses and went down to his grandfather to show them. His grandfather was only about 50 metres away from the house and it was a regular occurrence for him to go down to see him. He didn't make it that day.

"There was a hole dug in the garden for a soak pit and there was some water in it and we saw the little green knitted cap that he would have been wearing normally and it was floating around on the top of it."

There have been 28 farm-related deaths so far this year - 12 more than during 2013.

Mr Higgins, a part-time farmer and Bord na Mona employee, said he felt compelled to take part in the safety video to highlight the real dangers.

He said the freedom his sons had growing up could no longer be afforded to children because of the mechanisation of farming life.

"It's an awful year for farm accidents and there's no one cause," he added. "You may be vigilant all times now on the farm.

"All our little lads used to come out and feed calves and it was great but we didn't see the danger. An accident happens in a split second and it's too late then. People have to be aware of what's left behind. A farmyard is not a playground."

The safety video is the part of the 'What's Left Behind' series produced by Embrace Farm, an organisation which was set up by Co Laois farmer Brian Rohan after the death of his father two years ago.

Mr Rohan has praised the Higgins family for their bravery.

He said: "For the Higgins family to come out and tell their tragic story in this way is an incredible testament to their generosity of spirit.

"By giving their story they are shedding light on a very dangerous environment for young and old. We just hope now that their story will help others avoid the awful tragedy that has befallen so many this year and every year on Irish farms.

"We are asking that people share this as much as possible so we can heighten awareness of the risks on farms and perhaps help save lives in the process."

The video can be viewed at www.embracefarm.com.

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