Turf-cutting delegation to meet EU commission


PROTEST:TAOISEACH ENDA Kenny is to organise a delegation to travel to Brussels to meet the EU Commission in an attempt to resolve the grievances of displaced turf cutters using raised bogs.

This was revealed to the Dáil last night by Minister of State for Training and Skills Ciarán Cannon.

Mr Cannon said the commission had indicated its willingness to work with all parties to find a long-term resolution to the issue within the parameters of EU law.

“In just one year, under this Government, we have travelled further on this issue than we had in the previous 12 years,’’ said Mr Cannon.

He was speaking during a resumed debate on a Private Member’s motion, moved by the technical group, calling for the submission of a national raised bog restoration plan to the commission.

Mr Kenny attended last night’s debate.

On Tuesday, Minister for Heritage Jimmy Deenihan announced an improved compensation package for those affected.

Mr Deenihan said last night that in a spirit of co-operation, partnership and trust he would withdraw the Government’s amendment to the motion.

It was then unanimously passed without a division.

Representatives of the Turf Cutters and Contractors Association demonstrated outside Leinster House last night.

Sinn Féin’s Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin said the Government’s amendment exceeded the requirements of the motion and met the demands of of the association. He appealed to the Government to withdraw its amendment.

Fine Gael parliamentary party chairman Charlie Flanagan also appealed for compromise on the issue.

Independent TDs Mattie McGrath, Michael Healy-Rae and Luke “Ming” Flanagan, who spoke during the debate, had earlier addressed the estimated 1,000 protesters outside Leinster House.

They waved placards and chanted “We want turf’’ with association chairman Michael Fitzmaurice. Messages on the placards included “No to EU bog eviction’’, “Sod off EU’’ and “Keep her lit’’. Mr Healy-Rae told the protesters that they did not need “men in suits’’ in Dublin or Brussels to tell them how to live their lives.