The TCCA exists to defend the Right of Irish People to cut their own turf, for their own use, in their own bogs, in their own country. Rights are the limitations of governmental power that guarantee our Liberties and “Liberty, once lost, is lost forever.” (John Adams).
Neither the Irish Government nor the EU Commission are empowered to revoke our Rights. Citizens do not need permission nor a license to exercise their Rights and one does not break the law while exercising one’s Rights. Citizens of a democratic society have a duty to resist the imposition of unjust laws. “When injustice becomes a law, resistance becomes obligatory”.
Climate Change and Carbon Emissions are not part of the Habitats Directive. The EU Commissioner has aligned himself with fanatical and unrepresentative NGOs in an attempt to insert this extraneous issue into the Habitats Directive. This type of Eco-Colonialism risks bringing the Habitats Directive into disrepute.
Domestic Turf Cutting is a long established land use and constitutes the sustainable use of a local natural resource by the people indigenous to these areas. After five hundred years of Domestic Turf Cutting, our bogs are the best preserved in Europe. Yet, Domestic Turf Cutting Communities have been singled out for a state and EU sponsored campaign of intimidation, bullying and harassment, while commercial operations continue unimpeded with peat harvesting on a vast industrialised scale.
Larger and wealthier rural representative organisations have abandoned Domestic Turf Cutting Communities to this state backed campaign of terror and in some cases have even participated in, and facilitated it. These organisations have the temerity, in concert with the Government / NPWS to accuse the TCCA of not representing its members interests following our withdrawal from the Peatlands Council.
For those who may have been in any doubt, the TCCA’s decision to withdraw from the Peatlands Council was totally vindicated by the resignation of the Chairman, an honourable man who took NO payment and claimed NO expenses for his time and effort. Likewise, TCCA members who participated on the Peatlands Council did not claim expenses and as a matter of fundamental principle we have no wish to burden already hard pressed Irish tax payers.
The TCCA were the first to recognise that the Peatlands Council is a worthless Qango, whose continued existence only facilitates those who wish to pose as actors on the national stage, wasting taxpayers’ money while claiming to act in the common good. It should be abolished with immediate effect.
From the outset, the TCCA’s position has been both reasonable and consistent. We support the objectives of the Habitats Directive. Our position has always been that; (a) the difficult bogs must be dealt with first and (b) that nothing is agreed, until everything is agreed. This position was accepted by the former chairman of the Peatlands Council and has been acknowledged by Judge Quirke in the Peatlands Forum.
In the quest for a just solution to the problem foisted upon our Communities by Government / NPWS, the TCCA has:
- Met several Government Ministers to put our case in good faith.
- Prepared a detailed thirty-three page submission for the former Government’s 2009 Working Group.
- Participated in the 2009 Working Group Oral Session,
- Participated in the Dail Committee on the Environment.
- Participated in the Peatlands Council until the actions of Ministers Deenihan and Hogan made our further participation untenable.
- Carried out a nationwide consultation program, the first of its kind to take place with Domestic Turf Cutters on every SAC Raised bog in Ireland.
- Prepared the TCCA’s Conservation Proposals charting the way forward towards a solution based on Justice, Equality, Mutual Respect , Subsidiarity and Democratic Principles, in which the interests of all Reasonable People are recognised and respected.
- Met with the EU Commission and presented the Domestic Turf Cutters’ case directly to the Deputy Director General of DG11 (EU Environment Directorate) for the first time ever. (The TCCA’s Conservation Proposals are now used by the Deputy Director General as his “Handbook” on Ireland’s SAC Raised bogs.)
- Participated in the Peatlands Forum chaired by Mr. Justice Quirke, where the TCCA’s Conservation Proposals were acknowledge by the Judge and our Chairman was particularly commended by Mr. Justice Quirke for his tireless efforts on behalf of Turf Cutting Communities.
- Worked with Deputy Luke “Ming” Flanagan and the Dail Technical Group to have a Private Members’ Motion acknowledging the TCCA’s Conservation Proposals passed Unanimously by the Dail.
- Organised a Protest outside the Dail where in excess of 4,000 of our members, friends and supporters articulated their support for our cause and for Deputy Luke “Ming” Flanagan’s Private Members Motion.
- Prepared the TCCA’s “Phased Transition Implementation Plan” for the implementation of our Conservation Proposals and presented it to Minister Deenihan and the EU Commission. This Implementation Plan would have seen more that half of the Raised Bog SAC’s preserved now, and all of them by 2015.
- The TCCA were Ready and Willing to go to Brussels a second time along with the Irish Government to bring this project to fruition. Despite being told to have our passports ready, we were dropped from the delegation at the last minute without explanation. The Government Delegation was a complete and utter failure, squandering the glorious opportunity to resolve this sorry affair that had been created by the TCCA.
- The TCCA stood in solidarity with the Communities of Clonmoylan, Barroughter and Ardcraige to prevent the Seizure of Turf Cutting Equipment by the Government / NPWS employing a force of over 80 Gardai backed up by the Armed Response Unit in scenes more reminiscent of the Bailiffs and RIC of bygone days.
The TCCA’s steadfast campaign on behalf of Rural Communities has:-
- Resulted in improvements to the compensation scheme.
- Resulted in the compensation being exempted from tax.
- Prevented the Government from deducting the compensation from the REPS and AEOS.
- Highlighted the fact that the Compensation Scheme has no statutory basis and that the Government may fail to honour it. — Some recipients have already received letters and phone calls demanding repayment of compensation payments and hundreds of people remain unpaid from previous schemes.
- Highlighted the fact that the Compensation Scheme is for a “maximum” of 15 years. The TCCA expects the Government / NPWS in subsequent years to curtail the payment period based on an assessment of an applicant’s remaining area of High Bog. (Watch this Space !)
- Highlighted the danger of flooding posed to neighbouring homes, farms and country towns, by proposed Government / NPWS bog flooding projects.
- Highlighted the lack of indemnity against legal liability resulting from any Government / NPWS bog flooding projects, for those accepting compensation.
- Highlighted the potential implications of the 15 Km Buffer Zone contained in the Government / NPWS’ own guidelines, the existence of which Government / NPWS staff continue to deny.
- Forced the Government to concede that Small Scale Domestic Turf Cutting will continue on a small number of SAC bogs where there is no reasonable Turf Cutting alternative.
- Resulted in the Preparation (by the TCCA) of the only Raised Bog Conservation Proposals in existence at ZERO (0) cost to the Irish Tax Payer.
These Conservation Proposals demonstrate how a solution can be achieved in co-operation and consultation with the local communities, while at the same time protecting 103% of the Raised Bog area protected by the current SAC regime.
The TCCA approach is entirely consistent with the European Commission’s own document entitled “LIFE-NATURE: Communicating with Stakeholders and the General Public, in relation to Natura 2000 sites”, which states:
“The principle of collaboration is enshrined in the Habitats Directive, requiring that conservation measures take account of the economic, social and cultural requirements as well as the regional and local characteristics of the area. The manner in which Natura 2000 will be implemented is very important – the involvement of the owner of private land is crucial. LIFE shows that contracts are preferable to constraints”
Not only do the TCCA’s proposals have the potential to resolve the current problem, they demonstrate how the Habitats Directive could properly have been implemented by Ireland in the first instance. It is the Government / NPWS who have acted improperly in this matter, not Turf Cutting Communities whom Justice Quirke described in his Peatlands Forum Report as comprising of “hardworking, decent, respectable and law abiding citizens”.
In spite of unanimous acclamation by the Dail on 7-Mar-2012 , the Government / NPWS have rejected the TCCA’s Proposals and are pursuing a plan of their own. The Government / NPWS Plan is doomed to failure because:-
- Thus far the Government / NPWS have refused to accept that in approximately 5 cases it will be necessary to relocate Turf Cutters into nearby NHAs. This situation has arisen due to the unjustifiable concentration of Raised Bog Designations in some areas, combined with the selective targeting of Designations towards bogs used by Small Scale Domestic Turf Cutters. This, in and of itself contravenes the Habitats Directive’s principle of Geographical Homogeneity.
For example, in a 15 mile radius of NE Galway there are 20 designated Raised Bogs. This has the potential deprive these communities of their own means of subsistence in contravention of Article 1(2) of the “International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights” and the “International Covenant on Economic Social and Cultural Rights”.
The Government / NPWS’ reluctance to use the prerogative they claims to hold over NHA designated Raised Bogs, bodes ill for Domestic Turf Cutters already cutting on those bogs and who this Government continues to assure that a Turf Cutting ban will not be enforced against them ! Domestic Turf Cutters on SAC Designated Raised Bogs have heard all of this before .. !
- Domestic Turf Cutters relocating to another bog Must receive like for like bog replacement at their new location. That is to say, their Turbary or Ownership Rights MUST be transferred. They must receive at least the same amount of bog, of comparable quality. The relocation bog must be prepared and developed to an agreed standard and the Domestic Turf Cutters who are thus facilitating the Government / NPWS must not incur additional expense due to relocation.
- The 65 year permit / licensing method currently being proposed by the Government / NPWS is unacceptable! Domestic Turf Cutters will not surrender a “Right” in return for a permit or license. Domestic Turf Cutters who do not cut turf every year would lose out under such a regime. Those who need the maximum 12 hoppers per annum permitted under the proposed scheme would end up with a damaged and unworkable face bank, and multiple families cutting on the same Turf Bank will not be adequately catered for.
In addition, the 65 year period is the Maximum. Domestic Turf Cutters whose turf banks are assessed by the Government / NPWS as containing less than 65 years supply, will only be allowed a cutting permit for the number of years the NPWS deem the original bank would have lasted. This does not take into account the fact that many Domestic Turf Cutters do not Cut Turf every year and in many instances, turf of the highest quality can be extracted from ‘second cutting’ on the low bank.
Additionally, the 65 year permit / license proposal is likely to cost the state in the region of €50,000 to €60,000 per acre, making it a Very Expensive Non-Solution!
- The Government / NPWS expect Domestic Turf Cutters to relocate up to 9 miles away from their existing bog. This is unacceptable. As a general rule of thumb, the relocation distance should be no more than 5 miles.
- The “Difficult Bogs”, where Co-Existence and “Complete Habitat Exchange” is necessary Must be dealt with first ! There is no evidence that the Government / NPWS are seriously addressing this issue. Instead of using their contacts with local TCCA Committees to identify the difficult bogs and confirm that there are no alternatives, the Government / NPWS have used these contacts for PR “Spin” and Propaganda purposes against the TCCA in an attempt to pressure individual committees into breaking rank and accepting individual bog solutions. As a result of the Government / NPWS’ disingenuous “divide and conquer” strategy these last remaining local contacts are to be terminated.
Let those who would seek to criticise, criminalise and malign the TCCA and its supporters, look first to their own efforts in defence of Irish Peoples’ Rights. Rights that have been purchased in the Sacred Blood of True Patriots. The Heroic Leaders who won for us these Precious Rights, were prepared to Sacrifice Themselves for their People, . not to sacrifice the People for themselves and their Golden Circle of cronies. When the time comes, the TCCA leadership will not be found wanting.
The latter day Bailiffs and RIC men will intensify their “Land War” in 2013 in an effort to bully the “hardworking, decent, respectable and law abiding citizens ” into surrendering their hard won Property, Heritage, Cultural, Development , Democratic and Human Rights. They must persist with their attempts to frighten the Irish People into surrender, because like the EU Commission and Government / NPWS, they do NOT have the authority to revoke these Rights. They Locked us Out of our Jobs in 1913, but they won’t Lock us Out of our Bogs in 2013 ! We owe it to ourselves and to our children, but most of all we owe it to our Patriot Dead!
The TCCA will stand firm against this tyranny and we remind the authorities that the last Irish Land War heralded the beginning of the end of British rule in Ireland. For the last 20 years the collaborating elite of all parties have been conspiring to evict us from our bogs.
Under the collaborationist regimes of FG-LAB, FF-PDs & FF-Greens, our fishermen have been Evicted from our fishery waters, our Sugar Beet Farmers have been Evicted from the sugar industry, our farmers are being Evicted from their small farms, our Turf Cutters are to be Evicted from their bogs, our young married couples are being evicted from their homes and our school leavers are being Evicted from third-level Education and ultimately from the land of their birth. These evictions must stop!, and it is the Irish people themselves who must call a halt!
We wish all of our members, friends and supporters a Happy Christmas and a Prosperous New Year. We thank each and every one of them for their loyal support and selfless efforts in 2012. The latter day “Land War” will continue in 2013, but the TCCA will never betray the Irish People. We will persist with our steadfast campaign against the Evictions of the modern day Collaborators, Bailiffs and RIC. In this Land War, as in the previous Land War and in Ghandi’s Salt March in India, .. “It is not those who can inflict the most, but those who can endure the most who will prevail.” Therefore, we will prevail!