Gardaí fail to get access as turf-cutting restarts on protected sites in west
Up to 150 bog owners and supporters from Galway, Clare and Roscommon gathered at the Monivea bog from 5am on Saturday
Des Guckian from Co Leitrim shows his support for the turf cutters at Monivea bog. Photograph: Ray Ryan
Gardaí were obstructed and did not gain access as bog owners resumed cutting turf in defiance of the authorities in counties Galway and Roscommon at the weekend.
The activists said that further turf-cutting will go ahead at the 30 remaining bogs which are formally designated as special areas of conservation under the EU habitats directive.
Turf has already been cut at more than 20 bogs, mostly in the west and midlands as the bog owners continue to reject the Government’s offers of compensation and insist on exercising their age-old right to harvest the peat.
Up to 150 bog owners and supporters from Galway, Clare and Roscommon gathered at the SAC-designated Monivea Bog from 5am on Saturday.
A total of 12 machines moved on to the 1,000-acre bog and set about cutting 70 banks of turf.
Gardaí arrived and appeared to seek access to the machines but were blocked by the protesters. One individual offered his name to gardaí and took responsibility for the machines after gardaí read out the terms of the EU directive.
Throughout the day, Garda reinforcements arrived and at the height of the stand-off there were 10 Garda cars at the scene. Gardaí again moved in the direction of the machines as the cutting finished on Saturday evening, but were once again confronted by a human chain of protesters. Nobody was arrested.
Continue to cut
Spokesman for the Clonmoylan and Barroughter Bogs Action Group Dermot Moran insisted that the bog owners would continue to cut turf in their bogs in spite of further Garda action.
“We have cut in about 21 bogs so far and we’ll cut in the remaining bogs as planned – ideally, they should all have been cut by now. I don’t know what the gardaí are doing coming to places like bogs.
“There were over 27,000 burglaries in rural Ireland last year and yet we have gardaí in on bogs.
“It’s all wrong and a waste of time and resources. We told them they were in the wrong banks [of turf] – Anglo Irish is where they should be investigating,” said Mr Moran.
Up to 30 protesters also gathered at a bog at Kilteevan in Co Roscommon, where once again gardaí were denied access as cutting went ahead.
A Garda spokesman said that information had been gathered at the scene and investigations were continuing.