Fine Gael Kildare South TD, Martin Heydon, last night (Wednesday) vowed to continue to represent the turf cutters of Kildare South and welcomed the progress that was being made on the long running issue of turf cutting on designated bogs, including Mouds Bog outside Newbridge Co.Kildare. Speaking on a private members motion in the Dail Deputy Heydon acknowledged that for too long the turf cutters of Mouds Bog had not been represented or listened to by government or state agencies.
“Communication and trust is crucial to us being able to continue to work at a political level for solutions to the very difficult situation that exists with this particular bog. “Since I was elected this time last year I have endeavoured to represent those affected by the Habitats Directive in Kildare South to the very best of my ability. I undertook to travel to Brussels at short notice last July when the opportunity came to meet with Commissioner Potocnick and to explain to him the difficulties that faced Irish Turfcutters and their proud heritage as custodians of the bogs.
“I welcome Minister Deenihans speech last night, not because it announced an increase in the compensation payable to turfcutters, but because it acknowledged that the genuine turfcutters from raised bogs the length and breadth of this country have been let down in the past. “ While I acknowledge that there are many challenges still ahead of us as we work towards an agreeable solution, it is through a sense of common respect, understanding and trust that we will be able to work together to achieve those solutions and I look forward to that process” concluded Heydon.
NOTES TO EDITORS – SPEECH DETAIL
Turf Cutters Bog PMM 7th March 2012 Martin Heydon TD
Ceann Comhairle, I’m going to be parochial on this motion and discuss my own constituency and Mouds bog in particular · Justice Quirke in his report referred to the ‘breakdown in communication and a breakdown of trust between the relevant parties’
The people of Mouds have not been represented or properly communicated with by the state since designation first arose. · That trust is crucial to us being able on a political level to continue to work for solutions to the very difficult situation that there is with this particular bog.
The TCCA report, for which they are to be congratulated, highlights some of the difficulties 1. The fact that Mouds is 12-14 miles from any potential relocation bog, but BNM admit quality of turf on these bogs is pretty much useless for domestic turfcutters. 2. Risk of Flooding to the many houses that have been built on nearby floodplains, should the bog be flooded or drains not maintained.
I welcome the fact that the department have confirmed that any agricultural land that is damaged as part of restoration work on other bogs will be the departments responsibility, an aspect included in the plan in Mountbellow already, however this is of no comfort to those whose homes are adjacent to Mouds Bog.
You only have to see what happened in the past in this area to understand why the people of Mouds are so upset and hurt over the designation of their bog.
The state owns most of the bog complex’s that surround Mouds Bog. For years the state has stripped these bogs to their core leaving a trail of destruction and baron deserts behind them, while at the same time the cutters on Mouds worked that bog for fuel for their own use only. The state bogs aren’t worth preserving, yet due to the level of care and attention that generations of families have carried out on Mouds theirs was decided for designated. They worked the bog for generations, kept the drains clear, made sure that potential dumpers stayed away, prevented and quenched many fires. For this pain staking work they were designated an SAC without ever being consulted.
What is worse is that groups like the Friends of the Irish Environment will try to portray these same people, who are custodians of the bog who care more about it’s preservation than anyone, as criminals intent on damaging the raised bog.
No wonder there has been a breakdown in trust. Since I was elected this time last year I have endeavoured to represent these people to the very best of my ability. I undertook to travel to Brussels at short notice with my colleagues Frank Feighan and Paul Conaughton TD’s when the opportunity came to meet with Commissioner Potocnick and to explain to him the difficulties that we faced. I have worked closely with Minister Deenihan and Conor Skehan, whose contribution to this issue over the last year has been immense.
I welcome Minister Deenihans speech last night, not because it announced an increase in the compensation, but because it acknowledged that the genuine turfcutters of these raised bogs the length and breath of the country have been let down in the past by the state agencies and representatives.
Deputy O Cuiv admitted here in the house last night that there was no official derogation from the commission and that not enough was done during the time that they were in power. Well the fact is that NOTHING at all was done during that time, if only three or four bogs had been sorted every year throughout that period we would be sorted by now instead of being up against the clock with a financial gun to our head with threatened fines.
I also welcome Minister Deenihans comments last night regarding the development of a national plan for the management of all of the SAC raised bogs, and that it may be possible to bring some limited flexibility for a few of the most difficult bogs where there are no alternative solutions.
There is acceptance that Mouds is one of the most difficult bogs to sort. I also accept that this can only be done within the framework of the habitats directive and that a plan will not be acceptable and will have no credibility if cutting continues this year on the affected bogs.
That is where we come back to trust, the people of Mouds Bog need to trust us and work with us as we continue to try to find solutions to many of the problems that there are with this present situation. I for one, remain committed to representing these people who have been wronged in the past while also ensuring that we stay within the laws of Europe and that we protect the overall tax payer of this country against any potential fines.