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Co Down farmer dies in slurry tank fall

A father-of-two who died after he fell into a slurry tank while working on his farm has been described by those who knew him as “a decent, hardworking man”.

It is understood the victim — named locally as William McMillan (43) — was working with his teenage son on his Redhill Road farm near Dromore, Co Down, when the accident happened.

Mr McMillan, who is survived by his parents Maureen (65) and John (72), was an experienced farmer who grew up working on his father’s farm, said friends.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is investigating.

UUP councillor Jim Dillon, a friend of Mr McMillan’s, said: “He was a very careful farmer, someone who, in my opinion, did not take chances.

“He lived less than a mile from me. I knew him exceptionally well. He had farmed with his father since he was a boy.”

It is understood Mr McMillan lived on a beef and sheep farm with wife Wendy and their teenage daughter and son.

Mr Dillon said: “He was a decent, hard-working chap. A quiet man. He would not have disturbed anybody. I could not speak highly enough of him.”

He added: “From what I have heard his son was working with him on the farm and when he came back he could not see his father. The alarm was raised and a neighbour seems to have pulled him out.

“It’s an awful tragedy. I have not spoken to the family yet. I will go down tomorrow. I do not have the courage at the minute, to be honest.”

DUP MP Jeffrey Donaldson, who knows the family, said: “My heart goes out to the family in what has been a tragic loss for them. I know the community between Moira and Dromore will be very shocked. This is another dreadful reminder of the dangers of working on farms.”

Background

There were 12 deaths as a result of farming accidents in Northern Ireland last year. According to HSE statistics, deaths in farming accounted for 50% of work fatalities in Northern Ireland between 2007 and 2011. Between 2009 and 2011, farming fatalities accounted for 57% of all work-related deaths — and for 60% of work-related fatalities in 2011 alone.

Belfast Telegraph