A Fine Gael Senator has criticised a Green party Minister’s claim that peoples’ days of turf cutting on the bogs are numbered.
Midlands Senator Michéal Carrigy said Fine Gael continues to do all it can to ensure families and communities that rely on turf to heat their homes are respected and protected.
The Longford-Westmeath Senator said: “In the Seanad this week, Minister of State for Land Use and Biodiversity, Pippa Hackett, spoke about the recent debate on proposals on the sale and distribution of turf and the fact that turf burning is reducing every year as more people move find alternative ways to heat their homes.
“During her contribution, Minister Hackett said that ‘our days on the bog are numbered,’ a claim that I take grave exception to given that cutting, selling and burning turf is a vital part of our way of life in many areas of rural Ireland.
“According to the most recent Census results available, almost one in four [23.6%] households in the Midlands use turf to heat their homes, including many elderly people who have been alarmed by the discussion around the use, sale and distribution of turf in recent weeks.
“The lack of alternatives to the use of turf to heat homes is a major factor which at times is overlooked in this debate.
“Until people’s homes are insulated to a standard where they do not need solid fuel, and particularly homes in rural areas, then we should be allowed to keep our houses and homes warm.
“Retrofitting of homes is key to both reducing energy use and bills. However, the National Retrofitting Scheme was only introduced in February 2022, and the scale of works required to retrofit homes inevitably means time is needed for the transition.
“We have suggested previously that one solution could be to provide retrofitting works to communities which have a higher level of peat use, which could be identified.
“We all have a role to play in responding to the climate challenge and having cleaner air, but it must be stated that the use of turf only contributes to a very small proportion of air quality problems.
“Myself and my colleagues in Fine Gael are fully committed to ensuring there will be no end to traditional turf practices,” Senator Carrigy concluded.