Kevin Humphreys of Labour made the comments in a Dáil debate over legislation proposed by Labour backbencher Robert Dowds which would empower local authorities to designate private land as being open for public access.
However, many Fine Gael TDs strongly oppose it. Kildare North TD, Anthony Lawlor (FG) asked Mr Dowds if he would create “a walkway through his own house which allowed people to walk from the front door to the back door”.
His party colleague, Jerry Buttimer, said he supported the bill. He said in west Cork alone it is estimated that the walking trails and support for the walking industry bring €14m per annum into the local economy, and claimed this could be increased to €22m.
Mr Humphreys said: “There will always be a transfer of wealth from urban citizens for the purpose of ensuring the sustainability of rural communities. There should, therefore, be a quid pro quo in the form of access to the countryside.”