Turf will be cut in Leitrim this year. As a result of the Government’s decision to support turfcutters and their rights, local bogs within the county will be cut for turf this year as we wait to hear the ultimate outcome from the EU.
Last Wednesday, March 7 following a large protest of over 2,000 turfcutters including almost 100 people from Leitrim, the Government withdrew their amendments to Independent TD Luke Ming Flanagan’s motion to support to TCCA.
It was a huge win for a group which are in essence a small minority, but their resolve was big and the result they received was even bigger. The Government supported the turfcutters to cut on small bogs, to consolidate large bogs into smaller plots, to relocate to similar bog and to compensatory habitat exchanges.
The details have yet to be worked out and the turfcutters must wait for the Government to set up a meeting in Brussels to hear any specifics. But for the time being, the bogs of Leitrim, West Cavan, Roscommon and Longford are open for business. Deputy Flanagan speaking to the paper following the successful motion said “it would be irresponsible for any turfcutter not to vindicate their rights and cut turf this year.”
“All we need now is the good weather - but I can’t help with that,” the independent TD commented.
Leitrim protesters outside the gates of Leinster House last Wednesday night brought wheel barrows of turf and banners and made it clear that they didn’t want the newly announced doubled compensation, they want the right to cut their turf. Although the Government’s decision does not change the EU directive, it does give the TCCA credibility to fight the case in Europe with the backing of the Irish state Government.
Having his speak in the Dail last week, Manorhamilton’s Michael Colreavy commended Deputy Flanagan on bringing forward the motion, the Turf Cutters and Contractors Association on its very detailed and excellent report and the people who travelled to Dublin to protect their rights. “No one is more concerned about the natural heritage of the Irish countryside than those who live in it. Rural people have been the guardians of this heritage despite the attack of speculators and over-zealous developers during the Celtic tiger years. Those guardians of our natural heritage cannot be isolated or vilified now.
“There are people and organisations in Europe and in this country who would like to see parts of our rural areas fenced off and left underdeveloped so that visitors can come to see the native people in the natural habitat. We are not museum exhibits and we will not be treated as such.”
He also commented, “I wait with interest to see whether the Government and the EU display the same concerns for environmental purity and sustainability when they come to consider the granting of fracking licences in beautiful north Leitrim and elsewhere.”
Read the full story in this week’s Leitrim Observer.