O’Donoghue ploughs in over pre-paid tickets

Richard O'Donoghue TD at the Pat Hughes Tractor Run in Elton last year.

COUNTY Limerick politician Richard O’Donoghue has objected to the decision by the National Ploughing Association (NPA) to make entry into next month’s (September 19-21) show-piece in Ratheniska, Laois, by pre-paid ticket only.

The Rural Ireland Independent TD hit out that, in previous years, attendees could purchase their tickets in cash at the gate on the day they wanted to attend the three-day championships.

“The NPA has insisted that tickets must be pre-purchased online in advance to control the numbers of people attending on each day. However, after much opposition, I feel that they may have to back down on this decision,” Deputy O’Donoghue told the Limerick Post.

“For instance, farmers may need to make attendance decisions on the morning of the event, based on factors like weather conditions.

“Moreover, many rural farmers and residents lack access to digital payment means and face challenges due to sub-par broadband. In this context, cash plays a crucial role in ensuring inclusivity and preventing anyone from being left behind or excluded from major events like this.”

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Tickets for the event are priced at €25, and while under-12s are free they too must also be in possession of a ticket. The three-day event attracts upwards on 300,000 annually, of which well over 10,000 travel from Limerick.

In response to Deputy O’Donoghue’s comments this week, NPA Assistant Managing Director Anna Marie McHugh said: “This measure is completely driven as a health and safety measure on the advice of the Emergency Services following close to capacity levels at the 2022 event.

“If Deputy O’Donoghue requires any further clarity or has any other option available to the NPA that complies with the Health and Safety directive, the NPA would be more than happy to engage with him on this matter as this is the first the Association has heard of his concerns and it is surprising that Deputy O’Donoghue chose to address the NPA in the media rather than directly,” she added.

The NPA said it will at all times facilitate patrons who wish to buy tickets in advance of the event by cash through the NPA office or by sending postal orders or cheques. Should any particular day of the event not be sold out in advance of opening, the surplus tickets will be sold at gate.