Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees

Tuesday, 21 September 2021

Joint Oireachtas Committee on Agriculture, Food and the Marine

Impact of Peat Shortages on the Horticultural Industry: Minister of State at the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage

Photo of Danny Healy-RaeDanny Healy-Rae (Kerry, Independent) | Oireachtas source

I thank the Minister of State and his Department official, Mr. Lucas, for attending this important meeting. There is no doubt about it, and I am not being personal towards either the Minister of State or Deputy Leddin - they are fine people and I have nothing personal against them at all - but it is clear to me they are pulling the strings in government. They ensured Bord na Móna was closed down six years before it was destined to close down. There was moss peat left behind in Bord na Móna in the middle of the country. The Government is saying there are alternatives for nurseries in Kerry and for the horticulture sector. We are not even being told what the alternatives are. Will we lose those jobs? It is the same as the briquettes. It is no bother to import moss peat and briquettes into the country and, at the same time, our bogs are lying idle. We have no gold, diamond or oil deposits but we had a few bogs here and there. It is galling to think that in China they are building new power generation stations to produce electricity to burn coal. We are all under the same sky, or so I think. I have not travelled all over the world but we are told we are all under the same sky. People in Ireland do not want to hurt any part of the world.

This is affecting rural areas more than urban areas. As I said, we can bring in boats full of moss peat and there is no problem with bringing briquettes from Germany. People need these things and there are no alternatives for many people to having a bit of a fire to keep themselves warm from now until 1 May next year if it is a cold winter.

The Minister of State says there are planning issues. Will the Government bring legislation forward to deal with these issues? We have the peat and it can be harvested in the same way it was harvested in Latvia. That legislation should also include the production of briquettes.

Will the Government ensure jobs will not be lost in this massive industry? When you go round Killarney and see what flowers are in window boxes and all around the Ring of Kerry, how is that beautiful situation going to be kept up if we do not have moss peat? Will the Government ensure we will not lose jobs in the horticulture industry?

The Government must spell out what the alternatives are to the people who are wondering where they will get the money to pay their employees. That has to be sorted out. The most sensible thing to do would be to bring forward legislation to ensure peat can be harvested.


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