The turfcutting ban on 53 raised bogs across the midlands and west is no closer to resolution this week as bog owners continue to cut turf across the country.
Locally, bog owners say that those who choose alternative bogs in return for their designated land have not been allocated an alternative bank on which to cut their turf and reports of local gardaí accompanying National Park and Wildlife Services (NPWS) rangers onto bogs, have been rife over the past few weeks.
Gerry Gearty, Chairman, Bornacola Turf Committee said that one of the main difficulties local turfcutters faced was the lack of bog being provided for relocation purposes. Turfcutters and Contractors Association (TCCA) chariman, Michael Fitzmaurice also confirmed this week that “the Government has not been successful in relocating any bog owners to new banks”.
“In relation to relocation, we haven’t heard anything from the NPWS,” Mr Gearty told the Leader on Monday. They are claiming that the relocation proposal that we put forward to them in relation to bog owners in this area, was not viable, and yet they are now insisting that we take bog that is actually inaccessible due to a river on one side and a railway track on the other.”
The local turfcutter went on to say that bog owners along the Longford/Leitrim border no longer knew where they stood in relation to the ban, but proceeded to cut their turf this year, despite the difficulties. “We cut our turf anyway and we have had visits from the gardaí,” Mr Geraty explained further. “The Gardaí have come to us five or six times, accompanying the rangers and in fact they were here on both the June and August bank holiday weekends, but in fairness there has been nothing since the stand off in Galway last week.”
Mr Gearty also said that low flying planes across bog terrain along the Longford/Leitrim border was now “common place” and there was a genuine feeling that the NPWS was “keeping an eye on turfcutters in the area”. “Mistakes have been made with regard to the implementation of this ban; the European and Irish Governments got it wrong, but the bottom line is that we now do not know where we stand in relation to any of this,” the local turf committee chairman said. “We have no intentions of letting anyone take our land away from us.”