Turf cutters hold silent protest during court hearing in Galway

Wednesday 06 March 2013 22.32
Turf cutters say they have an established right to cut turf on their own plots
Turf cutters say they have an established right to cut turf on their own plots

Proceedings against four men charged in connection with the cutting of turf on a Special Area of Conservation in Co Galway have been adjourned.

The charges were deemed to be too serious for consideration at district court level when they were raised at a sitting in Loughrea today.

Books of evidence will be served at a hearing next month.

Clonmoylan bog in south Galway is one of 53 raised bogs designated as a Special Area of Conservation.

Turf cutting has been banned there since September 2011

Michael D'Arcy, 43, from Ballycahill, Killimor; Pat McDonagh, 43, from Portumna; Tony Porter, 44, from Woodford and Padraic Byrne, 57, from Main Street Killimor are charged with breaking the 2011 regulations at Clonmoylan on dates in May and August 2012.

Loughrea District Court heard the charges followed widespread disregard for the turf cutting ban.

The men's solicitor Gearoid Geraghty said there were serious constitutional issues at play - in particular regarding land ownership- and also a human rights consideration.

Judge Geoffrey Browne said the matters before him were too serious for a district court to consider and he refused jurisdiction in respect of all summonses.

As the charges relate to alleged offences on separate dates - three books of evidence have to be compiled.

They will be served on 10 April when the case is back before the district court in Loughrea for further consideration.

As the court sitting progressed this morning, around 400 turf cutters held a silent protest in solidarity with the four men.