Former UFU chief: death of 71-year-old shows dangers we farmers face

Ian Marshall, ex-president of the Ulster Famers Union
Ian Marshall, ex-president of the Ulster Famers Union

A former UFU president has said the death of a man aged 71 in an agricultural incident serves as “a stark reminder” of the danger which farmers face.

Ian Marshall was speaking after Co Antrim farmer James Gibson died after what is believed to be an incident involving a bull. His funeral is due to take place tomorrow.

It emerged today that the tragedy had unfolded at about 8am on Wednesday in Aughafatten, a rural townland a couple of miles north of Slemish Mountain.

An amublance crew and the medical helicopter were dispatched to the scene in response to what the ambulance service said were “reports of a male having been hit by a bull on the Killycarn Road”. Emergency services did not take anyone from the scene.

Co Armagh farmer Mr Marshall, 50, who was UFU president from 2014 to 2016, has handled cattle all his life himself, and said: “This is a stark reminder of the dangerous environment we all work in as farmers.”

Mr Marshall continued: “We’ve always focussed on the four areas: slurry, animals, falls, and equipment. And actually animals are probably the biggest proportion of that.

“We can never be complacent or take for granted that we’re on top of this. This just highlights the fact that it’s a very dangerous place, a dangerous occupation.

“It’s a horrible thing to happen at any time, never mind the mouth of Christmas.”

Mr Gibson’s funeral is to be held at noon on Saturday in Buckna Gospel Hall.