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Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnane hails from a sixth-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 firm during its start-up phase in 2015.
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‘People who gift a bag of turf to a neighbour would be criminalised’

Rural TDs slam proposed turf ban

The Rural Independent Group has called on the Taoiseach to scrap any turf-related bans.

In recent days, it emerged that the government will place a ban on the sale and distribution of turf in Ireland from September 1st, 2022, under new proposed regulations.

Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications, Eamon Ryan, provided this information to Fine Gael’s Brendan Griffin during Leaders’ Questions last week.

The Rural Independent Group has reacted furiously, labelling the plan as “insane and dogmatic”.

Turf cutting ban 

The group has accused the government of launching a “deliberate attack on the sod of turf”.

In a statement, the leader of the Rural Independent Group, Deputy Mc Grath, said:

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“It is mindboggling that the government would even contemplate, never mind announce, that they are proceeding with introducing regulations to ban the marketing, sale or distribution of turf from September this year.”

“Announcing this news in the middle of an unprecedented energy crisis is unforgivable.”

“Our group have been warning of the government’s sinister plan to attack the sod the turf for over a year now.”

“However, given the current energy crisis, we would have expected even this government to place a firm pause on any new turf curtailment measures.”

He accused the Green Party of “living on cloud cuckoo land”, adding that it has “no grasp of the current energy and financial realities impacting Irish families”.

Furthermore, McGrath said that many families face daily decisions of either buying food or heating their homes.

He said proceeding to bring in a law to forbid turf cutting, except for personal use in your own dwelling, without providing an alternative fuel source, is a “devastating blow” to many rural residents.

Target elderly and disabled

McGrath added that many people across rural Ireland are “almost exclusively reliant” on turf as a fuel source.

He highlighted that the government’s turf ban will particularly target the elderly and disabled, for instance, who have always purchased turf supplies.

He said these people “depend on buying a trailer or two of turf every year to heat their homes”.

“The extraordinary state overreach would mean people who gift a bag of turf to a neighbour would be criminalised by the government.”

Importance of turf

He believes that this most recent proposal will eventually lead to an outright ban on the burning of all turf. “Thus, if this planned regulation proceeds, it will only be the first step,” he warned.

He highlighted that turf continues to be a primary source of home heating for many counties.

In Offaly, 38% of households still use turf to heat homes. Meanwhile, he highlighted that in Tipperary, around 4,000 households use turf for heating purposes.

“I can categorically state that my colleagues and I, of the Rural Independent Group, are outrightly opposed to any move to curtail, in any way, the use of turf to heat a home in Ireland.”

Concluding, McGrath called on the Taoiseach to clarify if he will allow these proposed regulations to proceed.

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