Four face charges of illegal turf-cutting on designated bogs
Four men are due to appear before Loughrea District Court in Co Galway today on summonses relating to the illegal cutting of turf at bogs which have been designated as special areas of conservation (SACs) .
The four men, who are all from southeast Galway, face charges of using machinery without lawful authority, contrary to section 35 (1)(B) and section 67 (2) of the European Communities (Birds and Natural Habitats) Regulations 2011.
It is the first prosecution of its kind since an EU habitats directive imposed restrictions at the start of last year on turf cutting due to environmental damage on 53 bogs which are designated areas of special conservation.
A derogation was allowed for Irish bogs for 10 years but that has since expired and the State has offered compensation to those turf-cutters who have had to stop cutting on their bogs.
Supporters of the men have organised a silent vigil in the vicinity of Loughrea courthouse today, with people expected to travel from Kerry, Offaly and Laois to join local turf-cutters.