Proposal to ban sale of turf ‘unworkable’, says SF ahead of Dáil debate

Party’s motion likely to further expose internal Coalition tension over plans

Proposals to ban the sale of turf have been branded “unfair” and “unworkable” by Sinn Féin as it prepares to table a Dáil motion seeking to scrap any such move.

Internal Government tensions over proposals from Minister for the Environment Eamon Ryan are likely to be further exposed in the Dáil debate on Sinn Féin's motion next week.

Mr Ryan is seeking to ban the sale of turf from September as part of efforts to crack down on the use of smokey fuels.

There has been concern in Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil at the proposals.


Tánaiste Leo Varadkar last week said that imposing a blanket ban on the sale of turf from September would be going too far and that it should not be illegal for neighbours to sell the fuel to those who use it to heat their homes.

He said the issue had not yet come before Government, he said, and the details would be presented by Mr Ryan after Easter.

Laois-Offaly TD Barry Cowen has also expressed concern at the issue and he is to meet Mr Ryan next week to relay Fianna Fáil opposition to a blanket ban.

Mr Ryan has indicated that people with turbary rights – the right to cut their own banks of turf for domestic use but not to sell it – would be unaffected but all commercial sales of turf would be banned.

Earlier this week a spokeswoman for Mr Ryan said: “He has indicated that the regulations will go ahead in September, but that he will work with his Coalition partners in the meantime to engage on how the regulations would be implemented.

“The implementation will focus on the largest sources of air pollution, which is the retail sale of smoky coal, turf and wet wood.”

Rural communities

Sinn Féin announced its Dáil motion with Roscommon-Galway TD Claire Kerrane arguing that a ban on the sale of turf is "unfair, unworkable and will punish rural communities with no other heating options" amid the cost of living crisis and rising energy bills.

She said the proposed ban “must not go ahead. Our motion would end this unfair ban and ensure rural communities are treated fairly. I am calling on all TDs to back our motion next week.”

The Dáil debate is scheduled to take place on Tuesday evening.

A Department of the Environment statement said the proposals relating to turf are “first and foremost about air pollution and improving air quality for a greater number of people nationwide”.

It said the smokey coal ban in Dublin introduced in 1990 has been credited with saving approximately 350 lives per year in the city alone.

The statement said the primary focus of the proposed regulations is on commercial and larger-scale sale of turf and a “common sense approach” will be taken to enforcement. It said turbary rights and traditional turf use will not be affected.

The statement added: “it is important to note that these regulations are not yet approved and are still in process”.

The Department said: “potential amendments will be agreed by Government for inclusion in the final regulations in the coming weeks that will ensure that while measures are introduced to enhance the quality of our air they will not impinge upon traditional small-scale local practices associated with sod peat.”

Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn is a Political Correspondent at The Irish Times