Minister Jimmy Deenihan disappointed over turf-cutting breaches

Monday 01 July 2013 21.48
Over 30 turf cutters gathered at a bog at Kilteevan near Roscommon town at the weekend
Over 30 turf cutters gathered at a bog at Kilteevan near Roscommon town at the weekend

Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Jimmy Deenihan has said he is very disappointed and concerned at breaches of turf-cutting bans on raised bogs.

Turf was cut on four bogs with Special Area of Conservation status over the weekend.

Mr Deenihan said the development had financial and environmental implications for the country.

Speaking in Tralee, he said Ireland stood to be fined €9 million a year if the turf-cutting restrictions were not enforced.

The minister said it was worrying that gardaí were being obstructed at bogs and believed officers were doing their best to deal with the issue.

The EU is closely monitoring the situation, he said.

He pointed out that offers of financial compensation, alternative fuel supplies and relocation were being made to bog owners, in an effort to address their concerns.

The Turf Cutters and Contractors Association has claimed the Government is not serious about dealing with the problem.

It said workable solutions could be found, if the will was there.

Chairperson Michael Fitzmaurice said agreement has not been reached with all owners at any of the disputed locations.

The Peatlands Council has appealed for dialogue to bring about an end to the dispute over turf cutting on raised bogs.

The body was established to try and resolve issues caused by turf cutting restrictions on Special Areas of Conservation.

In a statement council chairman Seamus Boland said he appreciated the concerns of some land owners.

He said he was available to discuss any proposals that might result in a long term solution.

Mr Boland urged the Government and turf cutters' representatives to "redouble their efforts" to find relocation bogs and deliver results that benefit all sides.