We have to clarify the situation with regard to regulations governing the cutting of turf on blanket bogs and that was the basis to a question that I asked Minister Heather Humphries in The Dail on Thursday. Minister Humphries in her answer stressed the need for the habitats directive to be complied with and she pointed out that it was vital that bogs be preserved in terms of their tourism and conservation value.
“It seems from the Minister’s reply that one’s right to cut turf on a blanket bog will depend on where one is in Ireland. If one is lucky enough, one may be able to cut turf. If one is unlucky and the blanket bog is in one of the sensitive areas about which the Minister is talking, it could be any bog in any county in any part of Ireland , one may face restrictions. Would it be fair to say that one will be able to cut away at least until 2017, which will be after the next general election?’
“As we have always said, there can be conservation while people make use of things in different parts of the country. There is no reason people cannot work together constructively. I often saw in Connemara that the biggest attraction for a busload of people might be to look at a fellow cutting a few sods with a sleá. That is another aspect of it we need to look at. Those who have worked on the bogs down through the years need a bit of clarity. I welcome what the Minister has said about trying to work constructively with people so that they can cut their turf on these blanket bogs while also preserving these locations”