Following a meeting last week with Bord na Móna (BNM) on the issue of traditional turf cutting, one TD was left “frustrated”.
Michael Fitzmaurice expressed disappointment with the meeting, which took place with BNM officials and other public representatives to discuss solutions to allow people who traditionally cut turf on BNM bogs, but who do not have turbary rights, to continue doing so this year.
The meeting included public representatives from across the midlands and western region as well as representatives from the major political parties.
Speaking after the meeting, the independent TD said: “During the initial meeting just over two weeks ago to discuss this matter, a number of valid proposals were put forward in an effort to come to a satisfactory resolution for all concerned.
“However, it is regrettable that Bord na Móna and its hierarchy are seemingly uninterested in finding a workable solution for the people affected.”
Fitzmaurice claimed: “They prefer to highlight the supposed insignificance of the quantity of turf cut on Bord na Móna bogs [and] to downplay the number of households this decision will impact.”
The Roscommon-Galway TD noted that “a couple of thousand” households cut turf on Bord na Móna bogs each year who do not have a turbary right, many of whom have done so for several years.
“It is not acceptable that these people are being left high and dry this year with very little notice.
“While Bord na Móna continue to indicate that its hands are tied from a legal standpoint, I still believe there is a workable solution to be found and it is something I will be following up on,” Fitzmaurice added.
He argued that it should be possible for BNM to sell portions of bog to community groups in order to allow people who traditionally cut turf there to continue, even just for a few years.
“We must remember that many farmers and landowners had to sell bog to Bord na Móna historically as a result of compulsory purchase orders. It is time now for Bord na Móna to return the favour,” Fitzmaurice concluded.