Dumb it down
Is it true there's an actual turf war going on in Galway?
There seems to be a turf war going on in Galway at the moment but what exactly is going down in the Land of the Tribes?
So what’s this about a turf war in Galway? Is there a family feud or what?
Well no, not really. This isn’t your bog standard turf war. This ‘war’ is actually over turf (or peat land for you city slickers).
Oh, so what’s going down then?
There’s currently a large stand-off taking place between more than 100 turf-cutters, the National Parks and Wildlife Service and the Gardaí at a protected bog near Portumna in Co Galway.
Basically, the turf cutters want to cut the turf (naturally) but the National Parks and Wildlife Service won’t let them.
Oh for peat's sake, why's that?
Well, according to the BBC, Ireland is required to protect and conserve important bog land habitats on raised bogs under an EU Habitats Directive, and if we don’t the government could face a €25,000 daily fine. So if the lads continue to cut up the bogs and destroy the habitats, the state could face a fine of €125,000 a week - and it’s not as if we have that type of cash just lying around.
Sounds pretty serious. So what have they done to stop the turf cutters?
Around 20 Garda vehicles descended on the bog yesterday evening as part of what has been called ‘an on-going investigation into illegal turf cutting’ at the site. Apparently, the Roscommon/South Leitrim deputy Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan was at the scene of the stand off and according to him some of the officers were armed. The National Parks and Wildlife Service seized the turf cutters machinery yesterday, which has really brought the turf cutting to a stand still.
I can’t imagine the turf cutters were too happy about that?
Well, strangely enough, some of the machinery that was seized yesterday was set alight at around 3.30am this morning. So it looks like the cutters don’t want the National Parks and Wildlife Service touching their stuff. The scene has been sealed off and a Garda investigation is underway.
Do the cutters have a right to be there?
Well, according to current laws it seems they’re not allowed to be there. However, according to the Galway Independent, a spokesperson for Barroughter and Clonmoylan Bogs Action Group told the paper that they have no plans to cease cutting on the bogs.
“We’re going to keep cutting turf, right to the end. The bogs are private property. The people have deeds to say they own the bog, and they can cut turf on it. It goes back to way before the Famine.”
So what’s going to happen now?
Well since Ireland has to stay ‘best of friends’ with Europe, we really can’t see the turf cutters being allowed to stay at the site. Having said that, the turf cutters claim that it’s "private property" and are certain to tell the authorities to bog off.
So there could be a few briquettes left to burn in this row yet...