Asked why he pulled out of Government formation at a time when he was being tipped for a potential ministerial portfolio, Mr Fitzmaurice replied: "I don't need a Mercedes under me to do the work I have been elected to do".
A spokesman for the Dept of Arts Heritage and the Gaeltacht, which oversees the turf cutting issue, told the Farming Independent that there have been no prosecutions for illegal turf cutting so far this year or last year. The Department had no statistics on the tonnage of turf which might have been illegally lifted from the designated bogs, added the spokesperson.
The softening in attitude represents a big change as up to now relations between officialdom and the farmer/turf cutters have been fraught with farmer leaders like the IFA's Padraig Divilly dubbing the administrators of the bog conservation schemes as the "No People West of the Shannon" department.
"We are now making good progress and there is a willingness on both sides to solve the problem," said Mr Fitzmaurice stressed.
There are an estimated 2,500 turf cutters affected by the EU's conservation and heritage designations and they have been availing of the compensation scheme put in place in 2011 for these designations at a cost of €15m to the Exchequer so far.
This scheme gives them a payment of €1,500 a year over 15 years in compensation money and was extended to cover conservation at raised bogs mainly in East Galway and the Midlands and blanket bogs, mainly on the western seaboard and in uplands, in 2014.
"The programme for Government includes a commitment to publish new legislation to de-designate natural heritage sites within 100 days. Potential relocation sites have been identified for designated raised bog and the Department in consultation with the turf cutters' representatives is considering the available options," said the Department's spokesperson.
"Consent could only be given to cut turf on raised areas of special conservation where it can be shown that such cutting would not have an adverse effective on the conservation area."
'I am not going to put up with some official banning me from cutting turf'
Just under a third of Gerry Gearty's 90 acre farm at Bornacoola on the Leitrim/Longford border has been affected by EU conservation and habitat directives and he is not happy man.
Twenty acres has been designated as a Special Conservation Area (SAC) and his five-acre turf bank is also off limits and this has put him on a collision course with the authorities.
"I was charged with obstructing the gardai around the time the Department and the NPWS were flying small planes and helicopters over the bogs in this area on an almost daily basis," he says.
"I have no problem with the gardai and I explained to them that I had constitutional rights to my property and they charged me with obstruction not illegal turf cutting," he stressed.
The case has been adjourned pending the outcome of a High Court review on the constitutional issues involved in the turf cutters' battle with the authorities.
"My turf bank is my property. I have full title on it and I am not going to put up with some official in Dublin drawing a circle around it and banning me from cutting," says Mr Gearty.
He cut 30 hoppers of turf on the bank last year and says this rate of extraction is negligible.
"With everyone who is entitled to use the bog cutting an average of 10 hoppers a year it would take well over 200 years before the bog was affected.
"We have been cutting turf in this family back to my great-grandfather's time.
"My grandfather cut turf at Clooneen for the Dublin market during World War II and I expect my son Shane to be drawing turf from the bog when he grows up."
He is not interested in the turf cutters' compensation scheme.
He is only interested in changing what he describes as the "pick and choose attitude": of the heritage authorities to the traditional property rights of the turf cutters and farmers generally.
"They simply draw a circle around your property which immediately renders it valueless and useless. It has to stop', he says.