Four men who were accused of cutting turf illegally have been found not guilty by direction of a judge at Galway Circuit Court.

The four were accused of breaking EU law regarding natural habitats on raised bogs during the summer of 2012.

Michael D'Arcy, 50, from Killimor in Co Galway; Pat McDonagh, 50, from Portumna; Tony Porter, 51, from Woodford, and Padraic Byrne, 64, from Killimor had denied the charges.

Speaking outside court afterwards, Mr D'Arcy said he was "delighted it was all over" and described it as a "great day for rural Ireland".

The men were joined at court by a large group of supporters, among them Independent TD Michael Fitzmaurice.

Mr Fitzmaurice welcomed the verdict, saying that the dispute regarding turf cutting on protected bogs can be "settled in an amicable way rather than bringing people to court".

He said that courts had enough to deal with "without bringing turf cutters to court".