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Government urged to show leadership and compromise in conserving bogs

7 March, 2012 - by Brian Stanley TD

The Sinn Féin spokesperson on environment, community and local government Brian Stanley TD has urged the government to show leadership and compromise in dealing with protecting the state’s bogs.

Speaking in the Dáil Deputy Stanley said:

“Sinn Féin supports conserving and protecting our bogs and peat lands. As with the septic tanks debacle consecutive governments have failed to act on EU directives.

“The conservation of bogs should have been addressed prior to 2002. Only for local communities this government would have imposed unworkable solutions. It was only through tireless campaigning by the Turf Cutters & Contractors Association that the government has been dragged to the negotiation table. Only then did the Department of Arts, Heritage & Gaeltacht decide to engage with turf cutters and their communities.

“The department has increased its offer of compensation and that is welcomed, but the campaign was never about compensation. It was about defending people’s rights to access their bogs and to continue their work in a sustainable manner.

“I welcome the findings of the Quirke Report, in particular its recommendation of a national plan for bog conservation. This national plan must accommodate all the turf cutting communities on the affected bogs. However where turf cutters cannot be relocated, there are alternative bogs that can be designated for conservation. In many cases this will result in larger bogs being designated for conservation, leading to greater protection of habitats.

“It is not good enough for this government to allow Brussels dictate the terms without dealing with the consequences. The process has been deeply flawed and this must be communicated in the strongest possible terms to the EU Commission by our government. If necessary we must bring senior officials over from Brussels to show them the extra habitats that can be preserved and explain that this can be a win-win situation for everyone.

“The alternative to compromise will always be confrontation. It is up to the government to avoid confrontation by showing proper leadership and compromise.”

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