It is “totally unacceptable” by Minister Malcolm Noonan “to withhold the publication” of the final report of the working group that was set up to review the use of peat moss in horticulture, independent TD Carol Nolan has said.

The Laois-Offaly TD said she is “extremely disappointed” that a publication date is not being provided.

Deputy Nolan was speaking after the minister confirmed to her in a parliamentary reply that although he had received the final report of the chair of the independent working group on October 20, the contents are still being “carefully considered” and so no date for publication can be provided.

“It is totally unacceptable for the minister to withhold the publication for so long. Essentially this amounts to a political decision to keep the horticultural sector in the dark,” the deputy said.

“The sector and 17,000 employees who are dependent on it deserve clear sight of the proposed roadmap for the future that the working group is recommending.

“Telling us that the report will be published in ‘due course’ is simply insulting as it fails to recognise the absolute sense of frustration and urgency that remains despite the welcome, if belated acceptance by this government that its current approach to peat harvesting is unrealistic and unsustainable.

“The minister must publish the report immediately so that all stakeholders and indeed the entire horticulture sector can engage on its findings and recommendations.”

Horticulture peat bill

This week, a bill was introduced to the Seanad to allow temporary peat extraction for horticultural purposes.

The bill is aimed at “ending Irish horticultural growers’ reliance on expensive imported peat as a growing medium for their produce by allowing them to extract Irish peat as part of a just transition”.

The bill will make exceptional provisions for peat extraction for the purpose of horticulture for a temporary period in the public interest, in order to mitigate the adverse consequences resulting from an interruption to supply.