Clergy give support to gang-of-four turf cutters
PRIESTS have given their backing to four turf cutters who will face prosecution for illegal cutting on protected bogs and have called on parishioners to stand up for their "constitutional rights" and support the men.
The case is the first of its kind in the country.
The four will appear before Loughrea District Court on Wednesday and face charges of using machinery on peat bogs in defiance of European Union designations.
If found guilty, they could face a fine of up to €1,500 or a six-month jail sentence.
Parishes in the Clonfert diocese have included a call in parish newsletters to all property owners to attend a rally outside the court on the day.
Hundreds are expected to attend a silent protest, with turf cutters planning to travel from Roscommon, Westmeath, Offaly and Kerry.
Fr Pat Conroy, from Woodford parish, said parishioners were very concerned by the latest move to prosecute the four men.
"We included it in the parish newsletter because this area is very affected by this," he said.