Right to cut turf must be protected - Troy

(Above) Minister of State Robert Troy.

Fianna Fáil Minister of State Robert Troy will this week meet with Tom Donnellan, managing director of Bord Na Móna, to discuss turf cutting rights in Westmeath and neighbouring counties.

The meeting, which takes place on Wednesday, will also include Roscommon TD Michael Fitzmaurice, as both representatives seek an extension to turf cutting rights on Bord na Móna controlled bogs.

Minister Troy said: “The current situation with regard to Bord na Móna is that local communities have little alternatives to heat their homes once these peatlands are decommissioned.

“One alternative arrangement that would give a degree of certainty for these families is that those bogs nearing the end of their lifecycle be given to the local community to cut private turf for remaining years of life in the bog bank, thus ensuring alternative measures can be brought into force as the bog phases out.

“The actions currently being undertaken by Bord Na Móna in relation to smaller bogs cut by private contractors on behalf of families and communities are completely unnecessary and totally unfair. The High Court decision which Bord Na Móna is referencing throughout this process referred solely to the harvesting of peat by Bord Na Móna and should not be affecting private contractors, and families who have been cutting turf on the same bog for generations.

“Bord Na Móna needs to be imaginative in how it deals with facilitating individual turfcutters seeking to supply their own homes and this is a point that Deputy Fitzmaurice and I will be pursuing vigorously,” said Minister Troy.