Belfast Telegraph

Editor's Viewpoint: A tragic reminder of dangers on the farm

Editor's Viewpoint

The death of a Fermanagh teenager in a farming accident involving machinery is a huge tragedy. Our thoughts are with his family and friends, and the entire Garrison community where he lived.

The apprentice mechanic, Neil Graham, who was only 17, died on Tuesday at a local garage and the fatal accident involved a tractor.

His death is a reminder that life on and around a farm, including the involvement with machinery, poses considerable dangers.

Sadly, there are far too many instances of death and injuries which occur in an agricultural and rural setting.

To an outsider, life on a farm can seem idyllic, especially in the gloriously sunny weather which we are enjoying this week.

The reality is, however, that farming is a high risk occupation. People from the farming community can take steps to mitigate these risks, but there will always be dangers, especially where machinery and farm animals are involved.

Added to these dangers is the stress of making a decent living on a farm. Some farmers and their families have quite small holdings and, depending on the vagaries of the weather and market forces, it can be difficult for some to make a decent income in these pressurised times.

Long hours and hard work are all part of farming life, and it is not an occupation for the faint-hearted. So any death or injury in an agricultural setting adds further stress to an already stressful occupation.

However, there is another dimension to the latest tragedy which has implications well beyond farming.

Neil Graham was only a teenager, and his early death is a particularly huge loss for his parents and his siblings. Death at any time is difficult to bear, but it is unspeakably difficult for parents who have lost a child. This point was made by a family friend, Alex Baird, the vice-chairman of Fermanagh and Omagh Council. In passing on his condolences, he said: "When children die before their parents, it's a tragedy."

One consolation in the midst of such family suffering is that the agricultural and rural community is close-knit, and there will be a wide and deep well of sympathy for the Graham family after their enormous loss.

The next few days and weeks will be enormously difficult for the Graham family and the wider community, and they are in our thoughts and prayers at this very sad time.

Belfast Telegraph

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