4 men found not guilty of illegal turf-cutting in Galway

Four men have been found not guilty of illegal turf-cutting on protected sites in the west, according to local reports in Galway.

Galway Circuit Court ordered a jury to find all four not guilty to the charges they faced yesterday, Tuesday, February 18, according to local radio station Galway Bay FM.

The men in question – Padraic Byrne, Michael D’Arcy, Pat McDonagh and Anthony Porter – appeared before judge Rory McCabe.

The four Galway men reportedly faced charges over incidents of alleged illegal turf-cutting on an EU site in Portumna on May 22 and 23, 2012, and in Woodford on August 21, 2012.

The charges were made following restrictions imposed by the EU Habitats Directive on turf-cutting on 53 Irish bogs, which were designated Special Areas of Conservation (SAC), Galway Bay FM noted.

All four men pleaded not guilty to all charges.

When the court heard the prosecution could not offer the required evidence due to the unavailability of a key witness, judge McCabe purportedly directed the jury to return a verdict of not guilty.

FCI calls for year-round hedge maintenance

A change in legislation has been called for by agricultural contractors to allow for the maintenance of all roadside hedges and the removal of all roadside trees throughout the year for road safety reasons.

This would include periods outside the current hedge management season, and made on the grounds that roadside hedges in Ireland account for less than 15% of the total length of hedgerows in the country.

Making the calls, the Association of Farm Contractors in Ireland (FCI) is also requesting that the role of local authorities be strengthened “so that they can carry out their mandate where they have a responsibility to all road users and their safety on all public roads”.