Turf cutters back on Clonmoylan bog in defiance of EU directivesAugust 23, 2012 - 7:00am
Turf-cutters returned to the scene of a two day stand-off last June on Tuesday to re-assert their right to work on a raised bog in Co Galway where cutting has been deemed ‘illegal’ under EU Habitats Directives since the start of this year.
Over 50 cutters and their supporters resumed work at Clonmoylan Bog, near Woodford, on Tuesday morning and cut enough fuel for five local families in open defiance of the SAC (Special Area of Conservation) designations.
They sourced machinery from another location after a digger belonging to a local machine operator had been burned out in mysterious circumstances during the stand-off in June – the burnt-out digger remains in place at Clonmoylan.
The locals finished up work on the bog late on Tuesday evening and activity was suspended at the site yesterday. They are expected to return to gather home the turf once it dries out in the coming weeks.
Gardaí and National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) rangers drove by the bog a number of times throughout the day, but there were no repeats of the confrontations which led to an emotional overnight stand-off with members of the Barrougher and Clonmoylan Bog Action Group in late June.
“It was our first day back since the big stand-off,” confirmed Dermot Moran of the Bog Action Group (BAG) to the Connacht Tribune yesterday. “It was a case of getting ourselves organized in terms of getting in machinery and making sure there were enough people around. It’s no good for one or two to go working on the bog.”
Mr Moran said it was appropriate that the local turf-cutters returned to Clonmoylan on the anniversary of the ‘Saunders Fort Siege’ which occurred in Woodford in August 1886, during the height of the Land War.
On that occasion, local people resisted when a force of 500 British Army troops and Royal Irish Constabulary police came to Woodford to evict local man Thomas Saunders, who was unable to pay his rent to an absentee British landlord. The locals fought off the police and soldiers, before reinforcements arrived.
See full story in this week's Connacht Tribune.