UNDER FIRE Environment Minister Eamon Ryan.
The Government should be more proactive and provide more funding towards retrofitting houses instead of threatening to ban the sale of turf.
That was the view of a number of members of the Ballina Municipal District who criticised recent comments by Environment Minister Eamon Ryan that the commercial sale of turf is to be banned later in the year.
The controversial issue was raised at the April meeting of the municipal district by Cllr John O’Hara, who said that rural Ireland has been under attack in recent years, but the idea of banning the sale of turf is a step too far for him.
“We are being left in the dark in rural Ireland, but when they went after the turf that was the limit,” he told the meeting.
“There is elderly people who have not got their house upgraded and they get the present of a load of turf … I am very disappointed with Minister Ryan to come up with such a thing. People in rural Ireland, they live by their own ways and means.
“Turf is hard work, there is nothing soft about it, but the people who have it are used to it. He has looked at it wrong, and he needs to check his ideas out.”
The Bonniconlon-based councillor said the last number of weeks have been difficult for rural communities because of the rise in the price of diesel and fertiliser.
“What is coming down the road in rural Ireland? The price of fertiliser has multiplied by four and we see water meters in the country when there is nothing in the city.
“Our diesel has gone out of hand and rural Ireland is suffering. Down here we have to have everything brought to us by lorries, and I don’t see why Minister Ryan doesn’t do something with the diesel and half the price of it.”
His comments were supported by his fellow councillors with Crossmolina-based councillor Michael Loftus. “The attitude to the people of the west of Ireland from the people in Dublin is unbelievable in my eyes. They want us to be in a museum and not have anything but to grow flowers and this and that and the other, to show the visitors when they come down from Dublin.”
He continued: “They decide where they want these Special Areas of Conservation, and I think it is time we stop these special areas being lumped on us by the department. We have to live in our communities. If we don’t have the ability to do so you might as well close Mayo and the west of Ireland. It has to stop,” he said.
Independent councillor Mark Duffy said that Mayo County Council only received funding to retrofit 26 houses, and he called for the Government to incentivise people to stop burning solid fuel instead of using the stick approach.
“More incentives and support should be in place for households to retrofit their households. [This] is the best solution to bring people with you in terms of the [climate] challenge which lies ahead.
“[We received] funding of €940,000 to retrofit 26 Mayo Council Council houses. It is good they are being done, but 26 houses being retrofitted is not substantial enough in terms of the challenges we face. So instead of telling the people what they cannot do, the Government has to be a bit more proactive,” he said.
Tom Gilligan, Director of Services with Mayo Council Council, said he agreed with Cllr Duffy that more money is needed for the retrofitting of council housing stock. He said the council is ‘keenly aware’ of the increase in fuel costs since the start of the war in Ukraine and it wanted to ensure more homes are fully heated and insulated.