Taoiseach sends turf delegation to Europe

The Taoiseach is to send a “high-powered” delegation to the European Commission to discuss turf-cutting here, raising hopes that exemptions may be sought for some of the 53 bogs on which cutting is currently banned.

During an opposition motion on the issue last night, junior minister Ciaran Cannon told the Dáil: “The Taoiseach has now committed, following the publication of the Quirke report, to sending a high- powered delegation to Brussels to engage with the European Commission at the very highest levels.”

While he did not say what the delegation would be seeking, the announcement could indicate a desire on behalf of the Government to seek exemptions for some of the 53 bogs around the country where cutting is banned under the European habitats directive.

The Government earlier this week increased the compensation package on offer to cutters in the 53 bog areas to €1,500 per year. However, a large number have said they just want to keep cutting in their area.

Unusually, last night’s debate in the Dáil was attended by Taoiseach Enda Kenny.

A private members’ motion from the Technical Group of TDs in support of the turf-cutters was passed yesterday.

As the issue was being discussed, a large number of turf-cutters, estimated at up to 1,500, protested outside Leinster House.


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