Kildare turf cutters fight back
by Mick Healy
By the end of 2013 the Dublin government and the EU will have ended turf cutting in 130 bogs across the south, designating these raised bogs as special areas of conservation (SACs). This will prevent domestic turf cutters from cutting turf as they have done for hundreds of years. This is following the Dublin government’s ban on turf cutting on 56 active raised bogs last year .
John Dore, PRO for the Kildare Turf Cutters Association (KTCA), spoke at a crowded public meeting in Newbridge Golf Club regarding the turf-cutting ban and the importance of the bog to County Kildare. Dore questioned what the plans for these bogs were; if turf cutting stopped would they become floodplains and what of the three hundred houses that are in the footprint of the bogs! He said that the KTCA have plenty of people prepared to go to jail this year if necessary and that “either we take this lying down or we stand up and be counted”.
Last October a rally was held at Newbridge Greyhound Stadium, Droichead Nua, Co. Kildare. More than 1,200 people attended, some travelling from as far away as Galway and Roscommon to join with the Kildare supporters. Eirigi was also in attendance to show solidarity with the turf cutters. The main speaker was Luke Ming Flanagan TD and PRO, Turf Cutters and Contractors Association. He stated that the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht , Jimmy Deenihan, had signed the EU Birds and Natural Habitats Directive which banned turf cutting while the matter was still in negotiation. This ban occurred despite a compromise proposed by the TCCA whereby 80 per cent of 53 bogs in special areas of conservation would not be cut.