Issues surrounding the supply of peat to the horticulture sector means “the industry is facing a crisis”, independent TD Michael Fitzmaurice has claimed.

This is an issue which has developed in recent months, and it looks set to get worse if remedial action isn’t taken soon, the Roscommon-Galway TD added.

Commenting on this, he said: “The mushroom industry, nurseries and others involved in the horticulture sector depend on peat.

It is unbelievable that Bord na Mona is exporting peat out of the country and north of the border, when businesses in the south are crying out for it.

“Without peat, businesses in the sector cannot begin planting,” the TD warned.

“Next year, people will be wondering why they cannot get plants grown in Ireland for their garden next year.

“This will inevitably lead to the importation of plants, which also increases the risk of importing diseases to native plants,” he stressed.

“As well as this, thousands of jobs within the horticulture industry are at risk.

“This government needs to wake up and recognise that this sector will fall deeper into a crisis if action isn’t taken soon,” he said.

‘Clarity needed’ on Covid-19 vaccines

On another note, the Roscommon-Galway TD warned that vulnerable and elderly people living in communities need some clarity regarding when they will be able to access the Covid-19 vaccine.

The public representative was reacting to the slow roll-out of the programme in Ireland, and across the rest of Europe, this week.

Continuing, he said: “First of all, I believe the vaccination programme needs to be expediated. I agree that schools should remain closed until at least the end of the month to reduce the likelihood of a further spread.

While there is a natural emphasis of rolling out the vaccine in nursing homes at present, other elderly or vulnerable people who are living out in the community may be keen to get the vaccine – but they are being left in the dark.

“These are people who may be depending on carers or family members to offer them support so they can remain living at home. They must also be afforded the opportunity to avail of the vaccine at the earliest possible convenience,” deputy Fitzmaurice concluded.