Sinn Féin spokesperson on Environment, Community and Local Government, Deputy Brian Stanley, recently led a delegation to Brussels to seek a resolution to the designated bogs dispute in Ireland. He was joined by party colleagues, Senator Trevor Ó Clochartaigh, MEP Martina Anderson and Cllr Martin Kenny.
Speaking from Brussels following a meeting with the European Commission on the Environment, Deputy Stanley said: “Our meeting was positive and productive and highlighted the need for a comprehensive and credible plan to deal with the 53 bogs designated as Special Areas of Conservation (SAC) and which have been used for turf cutting. These were included in the European Habitats Register in 2002 without proper consultation with turf cutters and local communities.
“We stressed to the Commission the urgency of the situation and we are confident that the European Commission will use its influence to encourage the Irish government to re-engage and become more proactive in seeking a solution. Consecutive governments failed to deal with this issue.
“We want all sides to engage with the process. The Commission is committed to helping the turf cutters and the Irish government to reach a comprehensive and credible solution and produce a win-win solution for turfcutters and the protected habitats.
“We are proposing that an independent arbitrator be appointed to draw up a plan that is acceptable to the Irish government, the turf cutters and the EU. The input of the Turfcutters’ and Contractors’ Association is critical to this solution.
Sinn Féin will be seeking meetings with Minster Jimmy Deenihan and the TCCA as a matter of urgency to update them on progress made at the recent meeting.”
The delegation met with Deputy General, European Commission on Environment, Alan Seatter and Míchael O’Briain, Head of Nature, European Commission on Environment.