Get out and cut turf – is the message from the Turfcutters & Contractors Association, following what they call “an act of betrayal” by the Irish Government and EU Commission.
Minister for Arts, Heritage & the Gaeltacht Jimmy Deenihan met EU Environment Commissioner Janez Potocnik in Brussels last Tuesday, April 3, to discuss the turfcutting issue. The EU Commission refused the TCCA’s proposals, but the Government welcomed the European Commission’s support for a national plan for Ireland’s special areas of conservation.
The TCCA said their proposals to the Government and EU Commission demonstrated how in co-operation and consultation with the local communities people could continue to exercise their traditional, heritage, cultural and property rights, while at the same time protecting 103% of the Raised Bog area protected by the current SAC regime. Faced with this latest “act of betrayal”, the TCCA is withdrawing from ALL contacts and co-operation with the Irish Government and the Chairman of Peatlands Council and are asking all of their local bog committees to likewise break off all contact with NPWS and Government officials.
“The association are calling for the establishment of an Independent Commission of Inquiry to investigate past and current the conduct and activities of the NPWS, Duchas and the Irish Government, pertaining to Ireland’s botched implementation of the Habitat’s Directive. The group said ”We hereby free our members from the request that they hold off exercising their rights while discussions continued.” They said it was an ideal time to “strike for freedom and exercise your Turbary Rights in the time honoured Irish tradition.”
The statement was approved by Independent Deputy Luke Ming Flanagan who is PRO of the TCCA. Minister Jimmy Deenihan appealed to people not to cut turf, and said that if they break the law they will face the consequences.