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Sinn Féin delegation brings the bogs to Brussels

7 November, 2012 - by Brian Stanley TD

Sinn Féin spokesperson on environment, community & local government Brian Stanley TD will lead a party delegation to Brussels tomorrow, Thursday 8 November 2012, to meet EU Assistant Director General, Environment, Alan Seatter and senior officials of the EU Commission.

Speaking ahead of the visit Deputy Stanley said: “The purpose of the visit is to highlight the need for a comprehensive and credible plan to deal with the 53 Irish bogs designated as Special Areas of Conservation (SAC) and which have been used for turf cutting.

“What is required now is for the government and the EU to work with the turf cutters on developing a plan that includes realistic solutions for all 53 designated Irish bogs including the small number of contentious ones. This is possible and it will deliver a win-win situation for the turf cutters and the protection of habitats. That is the key message we are bringing to the EU officials tomorrow.”

“These bogs were included in the European Habitats Register in 2002 without proper consultation with turf cutters and local communities. Consecutive governments have failed to deal with the issue and have failed turf cutters and their communities.

“While the designation of many of these bogs is not a cause of concern, a number of bogs present major problems due to the difficulties of not being able to relocate turf cutters to undesignated bogs.

“Last March the Dáil unanimously passed a motion to put a plan in place to deal with all 53 bogs and to include solutions where there is difficulty finding a resolution. However there has been little movement on the government side in putting this in place. The Turf Cutters’ & Contractors’ Association put together detailed proposals for all 53 bogs. We believe this is a significant development that should be used as a template to move the process on.

“Unfortunately we have seen no action from the government on developing the plan with the affected communities. Instead their main focus has been on using airplanes to conduct aerial surveillance on turf cutters and wasting scarce garda resources in attempts to confiscate turf cutting machinery on the bogs.”

The delegation consists of Brian Stanley TD, Martina Anderson MEP, Senator Trevor Ó Clochartaigh and Roscommon-South Leitrim councillor, Martin Kenny.

The meeting with EU Commission is at 1.30pm local time.

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