Coolrain turfcutters defy EU

GARDAI stood by and watched last weekend as turf was cut in Coolrain bog, despite it being designated a Special Area of Conservation by the government.

GARDAI stood by and watched last weekend as turf was cut in Coolrain bog, despite it being designated a Special Area of Conservation by the government.

Nearly 100 local men, women and children came out to support a contractor who cut turf for about one third of the plot owners over three days, in what was reported to be a party atmosphere, with enough food donated by the community “to feed an army.”

On Friday evening, May 25 turfcutters blocked the lane into the bog, and machine cutting began at 5am on Saturday morning, continuing until 10.30pm that night, the same on Sunday, and from 4am to 8am on Monday.

A representative from the National Parks and Wildlife Service was barred by men from entering the bog, but after speaking to the group of men for some time, a Garda Inspector was allowed access to walk the bog and speak with the machine driver.

Last week helicopters circled over Coolrain to check if turf was being cut, on behalf of the National Parks and Wildlife Service.

Earlier this year, the government announced that a new agreement was to be negotiated to accommodate plot owners in SAC bogs, where no alternative bog lay near enough for displaced plot owners to use. They asked that while negotiations were ongoing, no turf was to be cut this summer, but across the country, turf cutters are reported to be defying the request.

For full report and photos, see next Wednesday’s Leinster Express.