The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine has confirmed that turf cutting rights are subject to “lawful regulation by the state”.

In a written question, Laois-Offaly TD Carol Nolan asked if those with a folio number for bog plots will not have their turbary rights removed or infringed upon by the State, any private company or a semi-state company.

In relation to bogland, the term ‘turbary’ means a right to cut and carry away turf from the bogs and includes the right of preparing and storing on the bog any turf cut there.

Minister Charlie McConalogue noted that the TD had not supplied details of a specific case and therefore it was only possible to give a general answer.

“As a general principle, it is settled law that private property rights (including turbary rights) are not absolute in nature and may be delimited by law, as occasion requires, with a view to reconciling their exercise with the exigencies of the common good.

“Accordingly, the exercise of turbary rights by persons in possession of a folio number for bog plots with associated turbary rights are subject to lawful regulation by the State which could in some cases include a limitation or removal on the exercise of those rights,” he said.

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Independent TD for Laois-Offaly, Carol Nolan

Independent TD Carol Nolan said that she was “deeply alarmed” by the tone and emphasis of the minister’s response.

“Now we are in a situation where a minister is unable or unwilling to provide a basic assurance that even persons in possession of a folio number for bog plots with associated turbary rights will have that right protected,” she said.

The TD claimed that the “common good” as understood by “this Green-dominated government” includes a “radical climate and decarbonisation agenda”.

Nolan said that this “is in stark contrast with the practical priorities of the vast majority of ordinary people”.

“The minister’s reply provides no comfort whatsoever to those people who have raised this matter with me,” she continued.

“It also provides no indication that he even understands the sense of threat that these people would like addressed.

“Their ‘rights’ are a purely secondary consideration. That is a political miscalculation this minister and this government will sorely regret,” the TD claimed.