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Turf-cutting accused to face trial

Four men accused of cutting turf illegally have been sent forward for trial to the Circuit Criminal Court.

The four men, all from south Co Galway, appeared before Loughrea District Court yesterday where they were each served with a book of evidence.

Supporters of the four men – including Dail deputies Luke 'Ming' Flanagan and chairman of the Labour Party Colm Keaveney – staged a protest outside the courthouse during the short hearing.

It was the second court appearance for the four men arising out of incidents surrounding the cutting of turf on protected raised bogs last summer.

Sgt Daithi Cronin served the book of evidence on Michael D'Arcy (43) from Ballycahill, Killimor; Padraic Byrne (57) from Main Street, Killimor; Pat McDonagh (43) from Portumna; and Tony Porter (44) from Woodford.

State solicitor for Galway East, Tom McLoughlin, told Judge Geoffrey Browne the DPP had consented to seek to return for trial to Galway Circuit Criminal Court.

Each of the men was remanded on bail of €100 to appear before the court on May 28. It is expected that the case will not go ahead until the autumn.

The four men are the first to be summonsed since an EU habitats directive imposed restrictions over a year ago on turf cutting, due to environmental damage on 53 special conservation bogs.

Dermot Moran of the Barroughter & Clonmoylan Bog Action Group said bog owners and protesters would continue to support the men during each court sitting.

Irish Independent