Belfast Telegraph

Lessons must be learned from tragic farm accident, but for now we must mourn the little boy with the beautiful smile

Editor's Viewpoint

The death of four-year-old Thomas Magee in a farming accident in Co Fermanagh is a tragedy for his family, and for the local community.

It is also something that strikes at the heart of every parent and grandparent in the land. The details of what happened are not yet clear, though the boy's death is understood to have involved farm machinery under which he became trapped.

An accident is by definition an accident, and these things happen in the blink of an eye. Children are curious and fascinated by machinery.

Agriculture is one of Northern Ireland's largest and most important industries, which faces great challenges. Many farmers work on smallholdings and it can be a challenging, even difficult, life.

There are strong commercial pressures to compete in this age of consumerism. The farmer's day begins early and ends late, and this is usually for 365 days a year.

A major issue is farm safety, and when something does go wrong, too often the results are tragic.

We can still recall the deaths from slurry pit accidents, the fatalities from tractor incidents, and attacks by livestock.

The death of Thomas Magee was the first of a child on a Northern Ireland farm for several years, while last year there were seven deaths on farms here, and six the year before.

The nature of modern farming means that there can be dangers around the corner at any time, and even more must be done to improve farm safety.

In due course the detailed causes of this accident in Fermanagh will become clearer, but in the final analysis this is a heart-breaking experience for this rural family.

The political representatives have expressed the deep sadness being felt by people in general.

The loss of a little boy of only four years is another loss too many. Our hearts and prayers are with the family and friends of little Thomas Magee, the boy with the beautiful smile.

Belfast Telegraph

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