EU & Government: Taking away Turf Cutting rights from families in Ireland (losing our traditions)

I recently relocated to Kildare and learned of an issue that is directly effecting some of my friends and family.

Europe and The Irish Government are planning to prevent families (domestic turf cutters) who have been cutting turf for fuel for hundreds of years from doing so.

Starting from 2011 to 2013, it will be illegal to harvest turf from small bog plots across Ireland and Kildare.

This will have serious implications for people like my grandparents who rely on cutting turf for their Winter Fuel supply, they will now no longer be allowed to do this & instead will have to find costly fuel alternatives such as oil, gas, coal etc – so fuel poverty is a reality for them and many domestic turf cutters nationwide.

The government is offering compensation to domestic bog cutters for loss of fuel, but the amount more than likely won’t cover the full cost of buying annual fuel.

Domestic turf cutting is where families only take enough turf for the supply of fuel for the family home but government commercial operations are where huge amounts are extracted thus depleting vast areas of land, plantlife & wildlife.

It’s estimated that there are 750 domestic turf cutters presently cutting turf in Ireland – these are small scale and work off just 5% of Irish bogs compared to the largescale turf cutting by the State on the remaining 92%-95% of bogs.

SMALL SCALE DOMESTIC TURF CUTTING

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LARGE SCALE STATE TURF CUTTING

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In context, just 1 acre of bog will last domestic cutters approx 300 years – effectively giving turf cutters fuel security for generations and helping them to avoid the reality that is fuel poverty (especially in times of recession).

Small scale domestic turf cutters have also proven over the years that turf cutting & bog conservation can co-exist.

Even the most extreme opponents of domestic turf cutting have admitted that our domestic & preserved bogs are some of the most pristine in Europe, if not the world.

And this is down to the domestic turf cutting families who over the generations have kept, cut, maintained and conserved their bogs with conservation in mind.

The Turf Cutters & Contractors Association (TCCA) is a national organisation setup to fight for the right of the continuation of domestic turf cutting in Ireland, it was also set-up to represent people affected by the Habitats Directive 1997 (SACs Special Areas of Conservation) and the Wild Life act 2001 (NHAs National Heritage Areas).

The TCCA represents the Domestic Turf Cutters of Ireland, enabling them to speak with a unified voice and they are fighting for the retention of the right of domestic turf cutters to cut an annual supply of turf to heat the family home.

Find the TCCA on Facebook for the latest updates on the above issues (click on link).

Kildare also has it’s own lobbying group, The Kildare Turf Cutters Association -(click link to find them on Facebook).

You may say to yourself that this issue is small in the grand scheme of things, it only effects 750 people and 5% of our bogs.

But it’s not just an issue about Turbary Rights (turf cutting rights) being taken away – its also a cultural & heritage issue, a craft which is being forced to die, a time-honored practice that goes back hundreds of years, a place where families came to bond over the turf and regaled stories about our past and heritage.

Another strike by the EU at the very fabric of our roots, a continuation of the homogenisation of our culture, identity and heritage. This is something we should fight for – without heritage, culture and history as a race we are nothing!

Please join the above groups on Facebook, if not only to support the domestic turf cutters then simply to try protect our traditions and heritage.

PART OF OUR HERITAGE

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~ by Carol O Hanlon on May 15, 2011.

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