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Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnanehttps://www.thatsfarming.com/
Catherina Cunnane hails from a fifth-generation drystock and specialised pedigree suckler enterprise in Co. Mayo. She currently holds the positions of editor and general manager at That's Farming, having joined the company in 2015.
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Protests: ‘If people want to continue to cut turf, turn out in huge numbers’

Protests over out-of-control cost of living

A group that a Co. Mayo farmer is spearheading is involved in organising a “cost of living day of action” that will take place next weekend.

Protests will occur nationwide in Sligo, Galway, Limerick, Cork, and Dublin.

The Rural Ireland Organisation (RIO) has joined forces with its coalition partners, Sinn Fein, People Before Profit, Independent politicians, and a growing number of other groups and organisations.

The action day will take place on Saturday, June 18th, with the main protest taking place in Dublin. It will commence from the Garden of Remembrance at 1 pm and will proceed to Dáil Éireann.

RIO leader, Gerry Loftus, stated that this is an opportunity for people to have their voices heard on the “out-of-control” cost of living.

The Mayo native called on the public to come out and support this day of action.

He told That’s Farming:

“The cost of food, electricity, diesel, petrol is crippling families. This is all because successive governments have failed this past twenty-five years to recognise climate change. The transition that should have been taking place during this time.”

“We have failed to transition away from industrial agriculture and develop sustainable food systems to feed our people. Instead, we spend €9 billion annually on imported food, adding huge costs to the consumer.”

Electricity

“A local electricity supply is critical for the future of our people. Electricity will be as important to mankind as air or water as everything will be run on it.”

Right now, he said the people of Ireland are being asked to pay corporations that erect wind and solar farms for the light that powers solar and the wind that powers wind farms.

RIO demands that the government implements systems that would allow people in both urban and rural Ireland to develop their own electricity supply for their own communities.

Bogs and turf-cutting

Support for small and medium-sized farmers and the right to cut and burn turf in our own homes are the major focus points for RIO on the day.

“If people want to continue to cut turf, it is critical that a strong message is sent to government by people turning out in huge numbers.”

“The EU Regulation in 2024/2025 will protect Ireland’s bogs. If we do not get recognition for turbary rights in this Regulation, then turf cutting is over.”

He said the same applies to farmers who farm peat soils. Ireland’s peatlands are set to be used as carbon mop-up areas for industry, with “no realistic” consultation with the landowners.

“This is an indefinite action being asked of farmers and communities, with no proposed indefinite payment. Furthermore, there is no plan as to how we keep communities alive.”

“An investigation into how farmer’s land has been signed into EU and government-funded projects, without any prior consultation with the landowners, will also have to take place.”

Fuel costs and transport

On the spiralling cost of fuel, Loftus stated that “families are being crippled in rural Ireland, and they have no choice”.

He argued that there is “next to no” public transport system in rural Ireland, so everybody depends on their own transport to get children to schools, to go to work, go shopping, care for elderly, attend sporting events, medical appointments etc.

He stressed that the government “needs to get serious” about developing free public transport to service rural Ireland and cities and rail infrastructure.

“It is only by doing this that it will be possible to greatly reduce the number of cars on our roads. Ireland is just so far behind on all this,” Loftus argued.

Buses

Concluding, Loftus urged the public to come out and support this day of action. He expects in the region of 10,000 people to attend protests in Dublin.

Buses will run from the west of Ireland on the day – for more information, contact 087-9402019 or 083-0998788.

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