Over 300 people attended a silent protest at Roseberry bog in Newbridge on Tuesday evening (June 26) in protest against the National Parks and Wildlife Services (NPWS) plot inspections since cutting rights were taken away and the area was given the new status of SAC (Special Area of Conservation).
Protestors carried banners that read ‘Your heads are like our bogs, marshy and soft’, ‘Our bogs, our turf’, ‘Mouds bog says no,’ and ‘We’ll cut till the plan suits all’, as Padraic Comerford of the NPWS based in Kildare attempted to carry out various plot inspections.
John Dore, PRO of Mouds Bog Turfcutters Association described the current situation for the turfcutters as “totally unsatisfactory”.
“Some turf has been cut this year on a bog where turf was not supposed to be cut,” he said. “The NPWS came to Roseberry to inspect with Gardai recently and were met by some 25 to 30 angry people. So we said we were going to have a silent protest - nobody was going to be hurt and over 300 people turned up”.
A statement was read out on behalf of turf owners in which claims were made that NPWS inspections were akin to trespassing on their lands.
“We said no to trespass,” he said. “We did not agree with any laws passed to authorise trespass. It was not debated properly and then passed in the Dail. The government said that the issue will be sorted out in a year but the NPWS said it will be two to three years before we have a solution.
“We have asked if Mouds Bog can be given the option of limited turf cutting but we are not sure if they will put us forward for consideration. In the interim people can get 15 tonnes of free turf per bank owner or E1,500 [pa over 15 years] but that wouldn’t cover you. People feel now that they won’t have enough turf for the winter. Only a small number applied for compensation. The whole situation is totally unsatisfactory”.
Turf cutters on all 53 protected bogs under the EU Habitats Directive, which includes Mouds Bog, have been warned they will face legal action if they cut turf on these bogs.
The government faces fines of E25,000 a day if turf cutting takes place in protected areas.
The Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Jimmy Deenihan, recently warned all cutters that anyone who broke the law would face the consequences.