Flanagan walks out after turf-cutting exchanges


ROSCOMMON-SOUTH Leitrim Independent TD Luke “Ming” Flanagan walked out of the chamber following sharp exchanges with Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney over turf-cutting rights yesterday.

The Minister urged Mr Flanagan, as “a talented communicator”, to find workable solutions for the “difficult situation” of turf-cutting in special areas of conservation which were within the law.

“It might involve compensation or relocation of turbary rights,” said Mr Coveney. “Instead of protest and inciting anger in people, I appeal to Deputy Flanagan to talk to the Minister who is proactive in this area to find an acceptable solution in what is a heated and difficult situation.” Mr Flanagan said he took the incitement charge as a bit of an insult. “Is it not accurate?,” asked Mr Coveney.

Mr Flanagan said he had met most of those cutting turf in the 55 bogs in question. The Turf Cutters and Contractors Association would present its solution, which was similar to what Fine Gael had promised before the general election, he added.

There would be compensation, which very few people wanted, the relocation of turbary rights which most people wanted, and redesignation which involved taking part or full bog areas out of special areas of conservation.

Mr Flanagan said his Fine Gael constituency colleague Frank Feighan had said before the election he would “sign his name in blood” to oppose turf-cutting bans.

Mr Coveney remarked that populism could be a dangerous thing.

“Populism and bondholders,” said Mr Flanagan. “I am leaving the chamber.” Mr Coveney said Mr Flanagan should “go on and walk out in protest”. Mr Flanagan replied: “My daddy did not give me a seat.”