Two men appeared before Listowel District Court today in relation to alleged illegal turf cutting on a bog in north Kerry last year.

John O’Connor, 50, with an address in Kilbaha Moyvane in north Kerry, and Chris McCarthy, 26, also with an address in Kilbaha Moyvane, are charged in relation to cutting turf on Moinvelagh Bog on 20 May last year.

Moinvelagh Bog is among the 53 special area of conservation bogs in Ireland where turf cutting is prohibited.

The court was told that following an inspection by gardaí and National Parks and Wildlife staff on 20 May last year, turf cutting was in progress on the bog.

Following further inspections on 21, 22 and 24 May more cutting had taken place.

Judge Mary Larkin said that she needed more information on the area of bog that was cut, the cost of the damage caused and the cost of repairing it.

She refused jurisdiction in the case and adjourned the matter to Listowel District court on 23 July for the presentation of the book of evidence.

During an application for free legal aid for the men, their solicitor Philip Moroney said that under the legislation there was a provision that did not allow for legal aid, and he indicated that this was unprecedented in Irish law.

During today's proceedings a crowd of up to 80 supporters gathered outside the court.

They carried banners representing turf cutters from Kildare, Roscommon, Galway, Clare and Kerry.