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Ring says turf cutting here to stay



Mayo TD rejects any proposal to ban turf sales

Anton McNulty

Mayo Fine Gael TD Michael Ring says the burning of turf is here to stay and his party is working on ensuring that those who rely on turf to heat their homes are ‘respected and protected’.
The proposed ban of the sale of turf has become an unexpected political hot potato with many rural government TDs under-pressure to protect the right of people to cut and sell their own turf while at the same time not undermining a Government policy.
Westport-based TD Michael Ring has been one of the most vocal opponents of Minster Eamon Ryan’s proposal and accused him of being full of ‘bluff’ at a recent meeting between Fine Gael members and the Green Party leader.
In a statement, Deputy Ring stated that retrofitting of houses was a ‘key tool to both reducing energy use and bills’ but reassured his constituents that the tradition of cutting turf will remain as it is an integral part of rural life.
“Solutions such as fast-tracking the provision of retrofitting solutions to certain communities that have a higher level of peat use should be examined.
“But let’s face facts too and facts spell out the reality here. The use of turf is needed now and will be needed long into the future. There are no alternatives sources readily available to replace turf.
“People have been cutting, selling, and buying turf for generations. It is an integral part of our way of life in many areas of rural Ireland. And while we need to improve our air quality and protect public health, we must acknowledge the reality that the use of turf only contributes to a very small proportion of air quality problems,” Deputy Ring said.
The former Cabinet Minister in the last Government said Fine Gael is doing everything to ensure families and communities who rely on turf to heat their homes are respected and protected. 

‘Stress and worry’
“I fully understand the stress and worry this issue has caused many people, and we are doing everything we can to resolve it. Myself and my colleagues are fully committed to ensuring there will be no end to traditional turf practices.
“Fine Gael has, and will continue to, protect the rights of people in rural Ireland while also ensuring all communities play their part in responding to the climate challenge. I’d be the first to remind people that Fine Gael TDs were elected on their mandate to represent the views of their electorate. This is what we will continue to do,” he said.
Last week, Sinn Féin brought a motion before the Dáil calling for scrapping of the proposed ban on the sale of turf in September but the motion was defeated by 72 votes to 64.
Before the vote Mayo Sinn Féin TD, Rose Conway-Walsh called on the TDs in Mayo to support rural communities and vote for the motion.
“The Government’s plan punishes communities who rely on turf, instead of introducing measures to support communities in transitioning away from this form of heating in a way that is fair and sustainable.
“I am calling on government TDs in this constituency to come out and say if they support this ban on the sale of turf or not.
“They have been vocal in the newspapers on this issue in recent days. They can’t say one thing to the media and do another in the Dáil. The people of Mayo deserve to know how they will vote tonight,” she said last Wednesday.

‘Pure politics’
However, Deputy Ring dismissed the Sinn Féin motion as nothing more than pure politics.
“On the other hand, Sinn Féin politicians are continuing to speak out both sides of their mouths. They’re trying to please everyone by both opposing carbon tax increases yet calling for more action and investment in the fight against climate change. They want it every way apart from having to make hard decisions. They are the definition of hypocrites.
“Any decision made by Government on this issue must have the backing of Fine Gael Ministers, TDs and Senators. We will be meeting with Minister Ryan again to discuss the issue over the coming weeks,” Deputy Ring concluded.