South Galway turf cutters this week defied warnings from gardaí and returned to cutting turf on Clonmoylan Bog, near Woodford.
The move comes almost two months to the day that the turf-cutters became embroiled in a tense stand-off, during which a turf cutter was hospitalised and a turf-cutting machine was damaged by fire.
The Clonmoylan Bog is one of 52 Irish raised peat bogs that have been designated Special Areas of Conservation (SAC) under the EU Habitats Directive. However, the turf cutters have vowed not to cease the activity, which they claim is their right as holders of turbary rights on these bogs.
Speaking to the Galway Independent on Tuesday, spokesperson for the Barroughter and Clonmoylan Bog Action Group Dermot Moran said that the turf cutters had returned to the bog and planned to cut for a further two or three days.
“People have come with machinery, and we’ve been cutting since this morning and we will continue to cut for the next day or two, because there was people without any turf, that had no turf cut even at this late stage, so even with the bad weather and all, we decided that we’d cut,” said Mr Moran.
Members of the Bog Action Group recently held talks in Portumna with Ireland North and West MEP Marian Harkin, where they raised a number of their concerns regarding the designation of raised peat bogs as SACs.
“She was listening to us, and we pointed out a lot of things that she didn’t seem to know,” said Mr Moran.