The sight of Kerry's mountains on fire due to illegal gorse fires is a 'disgrace' and is 'bad press' for a county of Kerry's calibre with its stunning landscape and its worldwide reputation for tourism, according to Kerry Cllr Cathal Foley (SF).
He tabled a motion at Monday's Tralee MD meeting outlining that due to the lack of prosecutions in regard to the illegal setting of wild fires, Kerry County Council should consider rewards for successful prosecutions in the future.
The deadline for burning gorse and wild vegetation came into effect on Monday (March 1) which means any burning or hedge cutting after this date is considered illegal in order to protect the habitat of birds nesting - ground nesting and in hedges.
In recent years the indiscriminate nature of gorse fires has also threatened property and people's lives.
"With the dry weather this week I expect we'll see more fires on our mountain sites…we need people to come forward and tell who is lighting these fires…they're getting away with it for years and it needs to end," Cllr Foley said.
"Kerry County Council are called out to put out these fires and thousands of man-hours are put into quenching these fires, meanwhile we're putting people at risk with traffic accidents and the like as we don't have enough people to respond as our fire-fighters are on a mountain side," he added.
Cllr Foley also criticised the situation whereby every year more and more fires are being lit with culprits able to walk away with little or no sign of a workable deterrent being put in place to stop them.
"There never seems to be prosecutions…for a tourist county like Kerry to have our mountains and areas of natural beauty on fire for weeks on end is just disgraceful, and shouldn't be tolerated in 2021," Cllr Foley said.
"Of course, there are plenty of farmers out there who manage their fires properly where it can be done properly. But the ones who set fires and walk way and just let KCC carry the can and pick up the tab, that should stop," he concluded.