The Chairperson of the Croagh Patrick Stakeholders Group does not believe they will be successfully sued by people who may injure themselves on a proposed path on the holy mountain.
The success of trial path works on the upper slopes of Croagh Patrick have convinced the group to extend the path, with a planning application to be submitted next month. A presentation on the proposed path was shown to members of the West Mayo Municipal District who expressed their support for the project.
Martin Keating, Chairperson of the Croagh Patrick Stakeholders Group, was asked by Cllr Gerry Coyle if there would be an issue regarding insurance if someone falls on the steps of the path.
Mr Keating acknowledged that liability issues have been one of the main concerns for landowners around Croagh Patrick but he now believes a new indemnity scheme will protect them against claims.
“There are a number of developments but principally there is a pilot scheme being rolled out by the department at the minute for an indemnity scheme for upland areas. The purpose behind it is to relieve landowners of liability for people using upland areas for recreation and other uses. That scheme we hope will apply to Croagh Patrick when it is rolled out,” he said.
Mr Keating added that a High Court decision in 2017 to overturn the awarding of €40,000 to a walker who fell on the Wicklow Way is another decision which falls in their favour.
“Secondarily, the case law has a lot to do with it and a most recent case that went to the High Court in relation to the Wicklow Way has strengthened the position in that regard. While nobody can say never in these situations, both of those give us confidence to move forward,” he said.
The evaluation process, which tested the feasibility of a pathway made from materials on the mountainside, was led by Scottish expert Matt McConway of Upland Access Ltd. Mr Keating said the success of the trail meant that the stakeholders were confident to move towards the next stage of the planning process. He said they hoped to provide a training scheme to be trained in the highly-skilled methods of upland path development and repair.
The work of the stakeholders group was praised by the councillors, who said that everyone agreed that something needed to be done to protect the path.
Mr Keating thanked the local councillors for their continued support and said that the decision to go to the planning stage was an exciting one.
“It is an exciting time and an exciting juncture to have reached. We are mindful of the challenge but we still look forward and are grateful for the support we have received by the municipal district here, which has provided the funding that has allowed the consultancy work and trial work to proceed. We look forward to continuing the work with the council in the years ahead,” he added.