A private members' motion from the Technical Group in support of turfcutters in Special Areas of Conservation has been passed in the Dáil.

The motion succeeded after Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Jimmy Deenihan withdrew the Goverment's amendment to it.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny was also present in the Dáil during tonight's debate.

A crowd of over 1,500 protesters demonstrated against the closure of some bogs to turfcutters outside Leinster House.

The protesters voiced their opposition to the closure of 53 raised bogs to turfcutters under an EU Directive.

Independent TD and spokesman for the Turf Cutters and Contractors Association, Luke Ming Flanagan, told RTÉ that the mood music had changed in relation to dealing with turfcutters.

But he stressed the vast majority of TCCA members did not want compensation - they want to be allowed to cut turf.

He said nothing will be agreed with the Government "until everything is agreed."

Speaking during the Dáil debate, Sinn Féin's Brian Stanley said turfcutters' rights needed to be protected, however he welcomed the forum set up by the Government to deal with the matter.

Labour's Arthur Spring said Ireland has to go back to the EU and make the case that the Special Areas of Conservation in Ireland are too big an area.

Mr Spring said the human dimension is not being given enough consideration in this issue and much more consultation was needed.

Fine Gael's Frank Feighan blamed previous administrations, saying the issue has been badly handled.

He said the previous Government had suggested there had been a ten-year derogation from the EU, but when he went in a delegation to Brussels they found out this had not been the case.

Fine Gael's Charlie Flanagan said there are probably grounds for a legal challenge to the ban on turfcutting, but he said he hoped the Dáil would not divide on the issue.

Independent TD Michael Healy Rae said turfcutters do not want compensation and said the EU cannot tell Irish turfcutters where they can cut their turf.

Independent TD Mattie McGrath said the drums of rural Ireland are beating and will not stop.