Government urged to save forests

Richard Boyd Barrett said a sale of the State's forestry would amount to a crime against the citizens of this country.

Richard Boyd Barrett said a sale of the State's forestry would amount to a crime against the citizens of this country.

 

A group of politicians and environmental organisations has urged the Government to halt the sale of harvesting rights to public forests.

Last year, Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Brendan Howlin said the Coalition intended to sell Coillte’s forests, but not its land. The Government has since refined the proposal into a sale of the right to harvest the timber.

Members from the technical group of TDs will table a private members motion this evening in the Dáil calling on the Government to “abandon any plans to sell the harvesting rights of public forest lands under the control of Coillte”.

People Before Profit TD Richard Boyd Barrett described the proposed sale as “shameful”.

He said the motion was to set “alarms bells” off among the public and provoke a reaction similar to that in Britain where the government backed down on plans to sell public forestry following a public outcry.



“To sell off the harvesting rights to our public forests represents a crime against… the citizens of this country,” he said at a press conference in Dublin this morning.

He claimed the State’s forests provide 12,000 jobs and “thousands of other spin-off jobs”. To sell the harvesting rights to 1.2 million acres of public forests would be an act of “cultural, economic and environmental sabotage”.

Fergal McLouglin from the Keep Ireland Open organisation said he was concerned that public access to Irish forests would be curtailed under the terms of any sale. “In Dublin one of the places you have the best chance of getting a walk is in a forest,” he said. If the sale goes ahead “we won’t know how access will work out. We don’t know who the owner will be.”

Mr Boyd Barrett was joined by TDs Clare Daly, Joan Collins, and Catherine Murphy. Also in attendance were Luke Flanagan and Thomas Pringle.

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