Bord na Mona is betraying ordinary people who have loyally taken plots of turf on their bogs down through the years with its latest move to prevent the practice this year, according to independent TD Michael Fitzmaurice.
Ahead of a reported announcement and public notices in regional publications this week, the representative for the Roscommon-Galway constituency noted that BNM is being “totally disingenuous”.
He said: “I am led to believe that they are leading with the statistic that 7 out of 10 people won’t be affected, as a result of having turbary rights. But the reality of the situation is that has nothing got to do with it.
“If you look at the bogs affected, up to 4,000 households in the midlands will be left high and dry by Bord na Mona’s decision. These are loyal, ordinary people who take a plot of turf in order to heat their homes in the winter.
“That is being ripped from their grasp. The timing of this looming announcement is yet another indicator of BNM’s disdain for these ordinary people – many of whom are elderly – with the turf cutting season set to start in the next two weeks.
“BNM’s spin doctors are trying to make light of the number of people who will be impacted by this move.
“Many of these people who take plots of turf depend on it as their only source of fuel to heat their homes. They cannot be left to hang out to dry, just because they don’t have a turbary right.
“Everyone is talking about a just transition, since BNM started pushing their ‘Brown to Green’ agenda. But since they were handed over €100 million, it is clear that all BNM and Tom Donnellan are interested in is turning their backs on the cultures and traditions from which the company originally grew.
“Are the deputies from Fianna Fail and Fine Gael – representing constituencies such as Longford-Westmeath, Laois-Offaly, Tipperary, Meath West, Kildare North and Kildare South – going to allow their parties stand idly by while BNM treats their constituents like this?
“People across parts of Roscommon, Longford, Westmeath, Offaly, Tipperary, Laois, Kildare and Meath will feel the brunt of this decision.
“The Government must be willing to step in and prevent ordinary people from being left without fuel for their fire.
“BNM is deciding to hide behind legal reasoning for this decision. I have spoke today with BNM personnel and have challenged them to provide me with this legal reasoning – as it is clearly stated that you do not require planning permission for bogs under 30ha – which most of the bogs in question at the moment are.
“The area where turf will be spread will represent just half a percent of BNM’s total land mass.
“I am calling for BNM officials to have a conversation with me publicly over the systems they have run in recent years, even though the same case law was in place then as now.
“But people need to be prepared to stand up for their rights to cut turf to burn in their own fire in their own home. These people do not need to look deep into the past either for inspiration. People were prepared to stand up for their rights then, and now should be no different
“This Government must be willing to intervene and stand alongside these people, otherwise they will be abandoning them yet again,” he concluded.