Impending ban likens turf to cannabis or cocaine, TD says

Opposition to a ban on the sale and distribution of turf due to be introduced in September is mounting in Kerry
Impending ban likens turf to cannabis or cocaine, TD says

Anne Lucey

Opposition to a ban on the sale and distribution of turf due to be introduced in September by the Minister for the Environment is mounting in Kerry and other areas, where thousands of households depend on turf for winter fuel.

Independent TD for Roscommon-East Galway Michael Fitzmaurice said the language “distribution and sale” was reminiscent of cannabis or cocaine distribution.

It would prohibit people from giving turf they had cut to an elderly neighbour for instance, he said on Radio Kerry.

Fine Gael Councillor Michael Foley, from Ballylongford in the Listowel electoral area, said households in north Kerry were “totally reliant on turf” and the ban, announced in April and due in September, “does not amount to a just transition” as required.

“We rely on turf, myself included. Just to cut it off like that is the straw that will break the camel’s back,” Cllr Foley said on Radio Kerry on Monday.

10 years ago, a bitter and protracted row over an EU directive signed by then minister for heritage Jimmy Deenihan banning turf cutting on a large raised bog near Listowel led to protests outside his local office. Opposition to the ban was felt to have been a factor in the loss of Mr Deenihan’s seat in 2016.

Turbary rights

In South Kerry, Kenmare area councillor Dan McCarthy said people had to be allowed keep themselves warm next winter.

Two weeks ago Cllr McCarthy asked the council to set up and support a scheme to encourage turf cutting in light of the current fuel crisis.

Every house in rural Kerry has turbary rights - the right to dig, cut and carry away turf from bogland to use as fuel for one's house - but these have not been used for 30 years and in many cases more.

In the Dáil in response to a question by Kerry Fine Gael TD Brendan Griffin, Minister Eamon Ryan said people’s personal turbary rights would be respected but turf could not be distributed or sold under the terms of the ban on solid fuel burning.

“Persons who have turbary rights will continue to be permitted to extract peat to heat their own dwelling, but will not be permitted to place it on the market for sale or distribution to others,” the Minister said.

Kerry TD Danny Healy-Rae last week said the availability of heating oil, coal and other fuels at this time is leaving people without heating in their homes.

“It’s a basic human right for people to be warm in their homes especially elderly people and children,” the Kerry TD said.

More in this section

Sponsored Content

Add Echolive.ie to your home screen - easy access to Cork news, views, sport and more