'Turf cutters glad to see back of him'
THE North Kerry branch of the Turf Cutters and Contractors Association (TCCA) were glad to see the back of their neighbour Jimmy Deenihan who, as a minister, confronted them over the issue of turbary rights on Moanveanlagh bog near Listowel.
The protected bog was one of several around the country on which turf cutting was banned in line with EU environmental regulations. As Heritage Minister, Deputy Deenihan, was responsible for imposing the ban, which was no easy job for him particularly when he could count neighbours and relations among the affected turf cutters. However, he felt he was left with no alternative because failure to comply with EU environmental regulations would have resulted in severe fines being imposed on Ireland.
Minister Deenihan put in place a comprehensive compensation package for the turf cutters, but while many families accepted the offer others remained staunchly opposed to any interferance in their traditional rights.
This resulted in a long running battle between the TCCA and Minister Deenihan, with the turf cutters staging occasional protests outside his Listowel office and holding further demonstrations on the bog itself.
In the wake of Minister Deenihan's departure from the Cabinet last week, the turf cutters issued an unforgiving and bitterly critical statement that showed no signs of burying the hatchet.
"The only thing he did for north Kerry was to introduce a law that criminalised his neighbours and bog owners for turf cutting. The dsiaspora are in good hands," said the statement.