Turf cutting case has potential to unravel years of work – MEP ‘Ming’

MEP Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan has commented that the turf-cutting case put to the European Court of Justice by the European Commission “has the potential to unravel years of work” for Ireland.

MEP Flanagan said, “28 families, including my own, cut turf in Cloonchambers bog near Castlerea. This week, Ireland was referred by the European Commission to the European Court of Justice for a ‘failure to protect peat bogs’. Cloonchambers is one of those bogs.

“I met with the Commission less than a year ago along with Deputy Michael Fitzmaurice to discuss this matter with them. In the meeting, we had a discussion about the length of time Ireland had already been given to comply. The Commission said that progress had been slow.

“I agreed that progress had initially been slow, but that turf-cutters were now engaging. For example, in the bog where I cut, all 28 turf-cutters are willing to relocate to another bog. That’s something which was not easy to agree on, but we did. All we are waiting for now is for the State to develop the turf banks in the relocation bog.

“This is not, and never was, going to be a quick process. However, it is a process, and I don’t see how a court case is going to make it happen any quicker.

“The planning procedure to develop turf banks on a relocation bog takes time. It’s unavoidable. It took years for turf-cutters to develop any trust with the State after its initial attempts to bully people off their property.

“I think that while the Commission think they’re doing a good thing, its legal proceedings have the potential to send us right back to square one”, he concluded.