Turf cutters will take out their anger at Fine Gael by contesting local electionsOctober 25, 2012 - 7:00am
Galway bog owners – already primed to step up their campaign against ‘illegal’ turf cutting on protected bogs – are now threatening to run candidates in the next local elections.
The Irish Turf Cutters and Contractors Association said that their election threat would both highlight their frustrations over the impasse and impact on Fine Gael, who they blame for the failure to solve the problem.
“If no progress is made we are determined to run candidates in the next Council elections. We will be putting people up against Fine Gael, because they have told lies about this issue since they came into power last year,” said Michael Fitzmaurice of the ITCCA.
This comes in the week in which the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht revealed that almost €700,000 has been paid in compensation at SAC bogs in Co Galway.
But the ITCCA have pointed out that the vast majority of turf-cutters (79%) at the 53 designated bogs have refused to take up the Cessation of Turf Cutting Compensation Scheme.
A total of €88,500 was paid out to turbary rights holders at Clonmoylan, near Portumna, which was the scene of an emotional stand-off with Gardaí and National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) staff in late June. This would indicate that 59 individuals have taken up the package.
And according to the Department’s figures, payments totalling €82,500 were made to turbary rights owners at Barroughter.
But these figures have been disputed by the Barroughter and Clonmoylan Bog Action Group, two bogs in which there were heated exchanges with Gardai and NPWS staff through the turf-cutting season.
“We can only account for five people in Barroughter who have taken up this compensation scheme and that’s from 600 families who have turbary rights at the two bogs,” said a spokesman, Dermot Moran, yesterday.
See full story in this week's Connacht Tribune.