‘But who is your neighbour?’

Wishy-washy stuff from Minister of State Robert Troy on ‘Saturday with Katie Hannon’ on RTE Radio 1, with the Longford-Westmeath TD scrambling to buy time as the rest of us wonder about restrictions on buying turf.

  Put in to bat after the outcry over Minister Eamon Ryan’s plans to ban the sale or distribution of turf from September 1st, Robert initially tried to muddy the (bog) waters by claiming there’s “inaccurate information” in circulation to the effect that people wouldn’t be able to cut their own turf from September. He was happy to assure listeners that people who have turbary rights wouldn’t be affected! Host Katie quickly pounced to remind the minister that nobody has really suggested otherwise!

  The minister went on to say that he had it first-hand from Minister Ryan that it is not the latter’s intention to stop people “helping out neighbours” by selling or giving them turf.

  When Deputy Troy suggested people will be able to distribute turf within their community, Katie wanted clarity…will people be allowed to sell turf within their own parish, but not in “the second parish over”?

  Stating that the emphasis will be on banning large-scale/commercial sale of turf, Minister of State Troy tried gamely to tiptoe inside Eamon Ryan’s head. Struggling to provide a cohesive response, in the end he somewhat lamely reached again for the rather convenient ‘There will be a consultation process after Easter’ defence.

  Katie showed the patience of a saint as she tried to extract some clarity from the Government representative. Their exchange ended thus:

Deputy Troy: “You will be able to supply your neighbours…”

Katie Hannon: “But who is your neighbour?”

Deputy Troy: “Well, we’ll see the regulations after Easter…”

  Meanwhile, our own Michael Fitzmaurice and the ever-earnest Peadar Tóibín were tripping over one another trying to impress listeners with their intricate knowledge of wet timber and wet turf. (You can listen back, via the RTE website).