Some 900 families across south Galway, as well as 97 families in the broader Monivea area, are prohibited from cutting turf on their own bog land, as a result of "undemocratic European Regulation".
This is the view of Sinn Féin Galway East candidate Annemarie Roche, who has called for an end to the "unfair treatment" of individuals and families cutting turf to heat their homes. "Domestic turf cutting is a long established traditional land use and Bog owners should have an established right to cut turf," she said.
She also questioned the rationale of gardaí being deployed to bogs in order to prevent the cutting of peat, as was witnessed in areas of Galway East during the summer.
"Over the course of 2012 and 2013, eight Garda stations were closed in Galway East by this Government, with a total saving of a mere €4,000 per station," noted Ms Roche. "The safety of the public, especially those in rural areas is being sacrificed as gardaí are instead being deployed to arrest decent, honest, people cutting turf in their own bogs instead of being deployed to protect people in the community from crime and this is just unacceptable."
Ms Roche has demanded a "concerted effort" from the Fine Gael-Labour Government to engage with European institutions in order to "resolve the ongoing issue of turf cutting", and is far preferable to "deploying already scarce numbers of gardaí to be misused as scaremongers within communities rather than protectors".