IFA SAC Project Team Chairman Padraic Divilly has described the proposed Turf Cutting Forum, which has been proposed by the Minister for Arts, Heritage + Gaeltacht Affairs Jimmy Deenihan as coming too late unless it is matched by a comprehensive package acceptable to farmers and turf cutters.
Minister Deenihan’s proposal is belatedly recognising that relocation is a viable option for turf cutters. This proposal has been with Minister Deenihan since he took office and he should have acted sooner.
“Relocation should have been put in place many months ago and not at the eleventh hour when farmers and turf cutters are being forced off 55 SAC raised bogs,” he said.
Mr Divilly said that IFA has presented proposals some time ago for a comprehensive package to deal with this situation
This would involve the reimbursement on offer being doubled from €1,000 to €2,000 and applying it for the lifetime of the bog with a minimum of 30 years and must not be restricted to the current 15 years deadline. Farmers who have not have not had deals concluded under the 2004 buyout arrangement should be allowed transfer to a new scheme.
Padraic Divilly said that before any deal is offered, every option must be given to turf-cutters. This would involve relocation for those who want to cut turf. “The supply of turf should also be provided for those that see it as the preferred option, where relocation is not suitable.”
In the case of relocation, Mr Divilly said a disturbance payment must be offered as, in a lot of cases, the relocated bog is a long way from the restricted bog. Also, a 100% grant should be available to those who want to install an alternative heating system and/or insulation where necessary.
“Where farmers have established cutting rights administrative problems must be overcome in a flexible manner. All users must be accommodated in a package of measures which protect the rights of all bog owners and people who use bogs to provide fuel for their homes, “ he concluded.