About 70 turf-cutters held a protest near a courthouse yesterday where two men were charged with illegally cutting turf in a preserved bog.
John O'Connor (50) and Christopher McCarthy (26), both Kilbaha, Moyvane, Co Kerry, appeared at Listowel District Court, Co Kerry, charged with illegal turf- cutting at Moanveanlagh bog on May 20th last year.
Judge Mary Larkin declined jurisdiction in the case which is to be sent to the Circuit Court.
The protest was organised by the Turf Cutters and Contractors Association, which is opposing the EU ban on turf-cutting on raised bogs. The protesters came from Kerry, Clare, Kildare, Galway and Roscommon.
Independent TD Luke Ming Flanagan, spokesman for the association,was also present.
State solicitor Edward O’Sullivan said Moanveanlagh bog was in a Special Area of Conservation in which turf-cutting was prohibited.
Mr O’Sullivan said gardaí and National Park and Wildlife Services officers found the defendants operating turf-cutting machinery. They were told to desist and to remove the machinery, but did not.
The case was adjourned to Listowel District Court on July 23rd.