Public meeting hears of dispute over turf cutting

A major dispute has erupted between landowners in the Lanesboro area and Bord na Móna over turf cutting rights on bogs in the vicinity of the power station in Lanesboro. Over 100 people attended a public meeting in the Lough Ree Arms in Lanesboro last week, among them councillors Tom Crosby and Sean Beirne and Longford TDs Peter Kelly and James Bannon. Landowners expressed their anger at what they termed was Bord na Móna reneging on an agreement entered into when the company took over their bogs to harvest peat for the power station. IFA Development Officer Adrian Leddy said that an agreement between Bord na Móna and local bog owners saw the company in some cases providing turf to local people and in other cases giving them alternative turf banks. Bord na Móna is now saying that this is the last year that they will have the cutting of the turf, said Mr. Leddy. Speaking following the meeting, Sean Reilly, Chairman of the IFA in Longford, said that Bord na Mona took over individuals’ turf banks and were allocated alternative plots. At the meeting local people outlined the agreement with Bord na Mona that the alternative turf banks were for the lifetime of the people and their families. It was also stated that no agreement was entered into by individuals with Bord na Móna with a defined line set out on a map or on the bog. Mr. Reilly said people at the meeting were very concerned about how they were going to source their fuel in the long term. ‘It is now important that Bord na Móna accommodates the people in the area in the future,’ said Mr. Reilly. Mr. Reilly said the bog owners got the full support from Deputies Peter Kelly and James Bannon and the County Councillors present from Longford and Roscommon.  A proposal was agreed at the meeting that the public representatives present would meet Bord na Móna. IFA has now requested a meeting with Bord na Móna to try and resolve this issue. ‘There is a social need and a responsibility on Bord na Mona to work together with the turf cutting people and the local community,’ said Mr. Reilly.