Fine Gael is working across Government to ensure a fair resolution on the proposals for the sale and distribution of turf that will protect the rights of the people of rural Ireland, Deputy Michael Ring has said.
Following a meeting with Minister Eamon Ryan last week, Deputy Ring said Fine Gael is doing everything to ensure families and communities which rely on turf to heat their homes are respected and protected.
Deputy Ring said, “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.
“Retrofitting of homes is a key tool to both reducing energy use and bills. However, the National Retrofitting Scheme was only introduced in February 2022. The immense scale of the works required to retrofit homes inevitably means time is needed for the transition. 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.
“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.
“Sinn Féin’s motion earlier last week in the Dáil was nothing more than pure politics. It was a populist move that would have no effect whatsoever on current regulations.
“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 said.