The national Turfcutters and Contractors Association have taken issue with the process of membership onto County Leitrim Heritage Forum.
The TCCA recently nominated Boornacoola/ Clooneen TCCA representative Des Guckian to the forum. But Mr Guckian was informed that membership to the forum is by “invitation only.”
Chairman of TCCA Michael Fitzmaurice last week wrote to the Heritage Officer, Ciaran Tracey seeking clarification on the procedure and qualification for membership to the forum.
In the letter he stated that Des Guckian from Dromod “is well qualified to contribute to the work of the Forum, not just on matters relating to turf cutting and rural affairs, but on the broad range of topics which the Heritage Forum must assess.”
He said Mr Guckian “has a good knowledge of local, and indeed national, history.”
The TCCA believe they are suitable to nominate members to the Heritage Forum as representatives are democratically elected and represent the rural population.
Mr Guckian, who previously ran as an independent local representative in Leitrim said he was “surprised” that his nomination was queried.
Mr Guckian said he previously attended a meeting of the Heritage Forum and “noted that there were present representatives of many environmental groups who want to stop turfcutting and severely limit farming practices. I cannot object to their presence but I’m certain that, in the interests of fairness and balance, the other side of the argument must be clearly and loudly heard.”
Leitrim County Council told the paper they are currently considering one application for inclusion on to the Heritage Forum. The council said they have recently commenced a review of its Heritage Plan.
“The review will be progressed through the Council’s relevant SPC supported by the Heritage Forum. The Forum is comprised of agencies and organisations (community and voluntary included) who have a role in the protection and conservation of heritage.
“The Forum is a means for specialist expertise and a joint and coordinated approach to the development and delivery of objectives and actions in regard to the conservation of the County’s heritage.”
“Two meetings of the Forum have been held this year, the forum meetings are not open to the public. However, “on completion of this phase a draft Heritage Plan will be approved for Public Consultation by Leitrim County Council.
“All members of the public and other agencies and organisations will have the opportunity to have their views inputted into the development of the final Plan, the adoption of which is a matter for Leitrim County Council.”