The owner of ‘Shooting in Progress’ signs that were erected in the Ely Lodge and Carrickreagh area of Co. Fermanagh and later removed by the Forest Service has reinstated them as he says he wants to protect the public by making them aware of ongoing shooting in the area.

Mr. R. Cathcart, who owns the land on which the signs have been erected, says he is well within his rights to shoot in the area, as he owns the sporting rights which includes shooting and fishing, and has placed the signage as a safety warning to walkers.


During a meeting on August 31, 2021, Mr. Cathcart claims that he had told the Forest Service that he would be erecting the signs, and at the time, they didn’t object.

“They [the Forest Service] hadn’t an issue with me putting the signs up and shooting away,” he told this newspaper.

The signs were removed by the Forest Service on November 26, 2021 with Mr. Cathcart claiming that he wasn’t consulted prior.

When asked by The Impartial Reporter about the removal of the signs, a DAERA spokeswoman, speaking on behalf of the Forest Service, responded on December 22, 2021: “The signage which stated ‘Shooting in Progress’ was removed to avoid confusion for the visiting public as no shooting activity was taking place at the time.”

Responding to the claims by the Forest Service that “no shooting activity was taking place at the time”, Mr. Cathcart said: “There’s no given time of shooting, we have been shooting that ground and we will continue doing it.

“I got [the land] surveyed to a tee, exactly where it is and I just put the signs in exactly where my ground is, on the border of it.

“At the end of the day, we are just making the public aware.”

Mr. Cathcart reinstated the signs this week, securing them to posts. He told this newspaper that the signs “will be staying up”.

“They are putting the public at risk, as far as I’m concerned,” he said in reference to the Forest Service having previously removed the signs.

No sporting rights

When asked by this newspaper, if shooting is ongoing in the area, is the Forest Service not putting members of the public at risk by removing the ‘Shooting in Progress’ signs?, a DAERA spokeswoman replied this week, acknowledging that the Forest Service do not hold or exercise sporting rights in this area of Ely Lodge forest.

“Forest Service follows best practice as outlined in The Code of Good Shooting Practice which outlines health and safety responsibilities and states, ‘Information signs, if appropriate, should be erected on shoot days on footpaths or bridleways’.

“Signage such as ‘Shooting in Progress’, which was displayed in Ely Lodge forest when the shooting activity was not ongoing, was inaccurate and misleading and was therefore removed by Forest Service staff for these reasons,” said the DAERA spokeswoman.

Mr. Cathcart commented: “I own the ground, the Forest Service has it as a lease as a shelter bed and people are there walking.

“At the end of the day there is no opening and closing hours of shooting.

“It’s too big of an area and too time consuming to put up and down signs as and when you are shooting. If you’re renting shooting rights off the Forest Service or whoever, you put up and down signs as you are shooting but as I own the ground, I’ll be leaving my signs up and shooting, appropriately, as and when I like,” he added.

Unable to comment

In an article published in The Impartial Reporter on December 16, 2021 regarding the ‘Shooting in Progress’ signs erected and removed from the Carrickreagh/Ely Lodge area in November 2021, a representative of Fermanagh and Omagh District Council informed that the Council was unable to comment on the issue, having “no input in the area”, and suggested that she contact the Forest Service, who it transpired also claim to have no role in managing the area.

Mr. Cathcart has raised his concerns that both the Forest Service and Fermanagh and Omagh District Council have claimed to have no role in managing the area, considering Geo Park signage has been implemented.

Defending his signage, he said: “At the end of the day it’s being responsible when something really does happen.

“That’s what I’m so afraid of is if something severely happened, who is responsible? Who is at fault? When [the Forest Service] and the Council say that in the newspaper, saying that they have no management in the area, and if there is a problem, it’ll boil back to that, and back to me saying, ‘it’s your problem’.”