August 2013        

Agrarianism, 2013

“The turfcutters’ initial victory reveals the difference between a people mobilised around clear demands and the many demonstrations organised over the last couple of years with no clear demands or strategy.”—Eugene McCartan, CPI, 2012.
     On 9 March 2012 four-and-a-half thousand working people took part in an agrarian-style demonstration outside Leinster House organised by the Turf Cutters’ and Contractors’ Association. As a result the Dublin parliament passed a motion tabled by Luke Flanagan TD in support of the turf-cutters and for a national raised-bog restoration plan.
     Having previously rejected the turf-cutters’ case, the Government promised to organise a delegation to travel to Brussels to meet the EU Commission in an attempt to resolve their grievances. This was not to be, as the Government simply reneged on the commitment made to the turf-cutters.
     More than a year later the Government is continuing its offensive against the turf-cutters. On 3 July four turf-cutters were again before the Circuit Criminal Court in Galway, charged in connection with cutting turf in special areas of conservation in Co. Galway. Their case was put back to a further hearing in December. In addition, Michael and James King from Co. Longford were charged with cutting turf in two separate places in bogs designated as special areas of conservation; their case was adjourned until 17 September.
     Deputy Flanagan, PRO of the Turf Cutters’ and Contractors’ Association, said there was “great irony that the bankers from the Anglo tapes are tucked up in their five-star bed at the moment and the turf-cutters are facing three years in jail.”
     The present situation is totally unsatisfactory since the introduction of the EU Habitats Directive, which prevents working people cutting turf as they have done for generations. Until there is a final fair and acceptable solution there will be no cessation of turf-cutting!

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