Turf cutters give their side of the story

A delegation from the Turf Cutters Association, gave a passionate call for the retention of turbary rights in Mayo when they gave a presentation to the Environmental SPC of Mayo County Council. The association had been asked to meet the members of the committee after the National Parks and Wildlife Service had given a presentation to the committee previously on the upcoming ban on turf cutting on blanket bogs. After the presentation, Cllr Peter Flynn, chairperson of the committee told the meeting: “We need to get to the bottom of this because what we heard today tells a different story from what we were told by the National Parks and Wildlife Service.”

“We have kept a lid on this for a long time, but we can’t do it much longer,” said Michael Fitzmaurice of the Irish Turf Cutters Association, who gave the presentation. Mr Fitzmaurice told the meeting that there is palpable anger among people on this issue and that they are not going to keep quiet about it much longer. He hit out at the Government past and present for not making people aware how severe the restrictions on turf cutting are going to be. “Families who have been cutting turf on their bogs all their lives were not told how restrictive these regulations are, a big row is going to happen when people are stopped from opening up new banks of turf once existing sections have been exhausted by them,” he added.

Mr Fitzmaurice told the meeting that his association had on number of occasions tried to work out a reasonable compromise with the relevant government departments, but they were not open to the compromises that they were suggesting. He also told the meeting that a number of turf cutters were being intimidated by officers from the National Parks and Wildlife Services.

Mr Fitzmaurice also told the meeting that because of the designation of a number of areas in Mayo as Special Areas of Conservation it could have a serious effect on the development of renewable energy. He told the meeting that Mayo has some of the best waves that could be harnessed for wave energy in the country, but because of the number of Special Areas of Conservation that are in Mayo, getting that energy which could be generated connected to the national grid could be a major problem if it has to cross these areas.

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