Thursday 20 June 2019

Gormley snub 'helped No vote'

Michael Brennan Political Correspondent

ENVIRONMENT Minister John Gormley has been accused of fuelling a 'No' vote by snubbing turf cutters.

There is significant anger in parts of rural Ireland about the EU Habitats Directive which will ban turf cutting next year on 32 bogs designed as Special Areas of Conservation (SACs).

The rising price of oil, which has made the turf harvested from the bogs even more valuable, is expected to have swelled the numbers of those voting 'No' yesterday.

Fine Gael Galway East TD Paul Connaughton said Mr Gormley should not have declined to meet the turf cutters to discuss the issue. He claimed it was an issue in the Lisbon Treaty referendum debates.

"What we find extraordinarily difficult to understand is that at the time oil prices have doubled, we have to walk away from [our] most sustainable fuel supplies," he told the Irish Independent.

Mr Connaughton is affected by the ban as his family will no longer be allowed cut turf at Carnagopple bog near Mountbellew next year for the first time in almost 100 years.

Although the 32 bogs represent just 3pc of all the bogs in the country, there are fears in rural areas that the turf-cutting ban will be extended.

Mr Connaughton said he would be pressing for changes before the ban is brought in.

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