Upwards of 80 people who cut turf on bogs in East and North Westmeath met in Delvin Handball Alley on February 1st to set up a local campaign group to protect the rights of bog owners and turf cutters and contractors in the area.
Sean Reilly and Roisin Reynolds from the Sheelin Turf Cutters and Contractors Association in Finea addressed the meeting, outlining their experiences in setting up their group and the widespread support they have received.
Sean Reilly explained that the aim of the Turf Cutters and Contractors Association is to have the recent EU dictat, supported and agreed by the Irish Government in relation to the banning of all future turf cutting; rescinded. This dictat was agreed by the Irish Government, with its EU bosses without any consultation, or interaction with the bog owners, or people with turbary rights.
He pointed out that the current value of one acre of raised bog has been independently estimated at between 250-300,00 euros. The Irish government are at the moment vigorously lobbying bog owners and other persons with turbary rights to sign up to a ‘compensation’ proposal which proposes 1,000 euros (or ten tonnes of turf) per year for 15 years. The sum of 750 million euros was allotted to the Irish Government by the EU to compensate bog owners for the surrender of their turf cutting rights. However this money has gone missing, or has been spent, so the likelihood of receiving compensation is very remote. Anyone who signs up to this ‘compensation’ proposal, in fact signs away ownership and all turbary rights in perpetuity.
Details were given of a National March in Dublin on the evening of March 7th. On that day National Turf Cutters & Contractors Association, spearheaded by Deputy Luke “Ming” Flanagan, T.D; supported by a number of Dail deputies will bring a private members bill before Dail Eireann the week before commencement of turf cutting, where the business of the Dail will be 100% dedicated to the turf cutting issue. This will result in a Dail vote on the matter where each deputy will get an opportunity to reveal their support or otherwise for the turf cutters of Ireland. Delegations are being organised from all over Ireland to travel to Dublin on the day. ‘This is our last and only chance to defend our long standing rights as bog owners and users. There is strength in numbers. “We need boots on the ground” concluded Mr Reilly.
Nominations were then opened for a number of positions in a Delvin Turf Cutters and Contractors group and the following were selected: Mick Nevin (Chairperson), Mags Glennon (Secretary), E Fechin (Assistant Secretary), Ronan Leonard (Treasurer). Another meeting was announced for the Delvin Handball Alley at 8pm on Wednesday February 8th. The meeting is open to all who are interested in helping to get a turf cutters and contractors group organised in the Delvin and general East Westmeath area. Application forms are also available for those interested in joining the National Turf Cutters and Contractors Association (TCCA).
Submitted by Mags Glennon087 671 1130