Dáil debates

Wednesday, 4 July 2018

Heritage Bill 2016: Report Stage (Resumed) and Final Stage


9:10 pm

Photo of Mattie McGrathMattie McGrath (Tipperary, Independent) | Oireachtas source

I know that. I am making the comparison. It is part of it, a chathaoirligh. Road safety, the cutting back of roadside hedges and the felling of trees on the roadside are paramount. It must be done. As a young boy of only about seven, I was in a car one Saturday afternoon when a tree was felled. I was cut out of the car with my late mother and my late brother - they were not killed in the accident, thankfully, but they died since. We were cut out by a fire brigade so I know what it is like to have a roadside tree fall on a vehicle. That time, the man cutting it did not block the road. At that stage, one did not get a licence. It fell the wrong way on top of us. I have been in many a storm ever since and I am frightened of my life of trees. A young man lost his own life in my area in storm Ophelia, with a tree and another one 20 miles away in Aglish in County Waterford did too.

It is important that we are in a position to act. There is nothing worse than residents, homeowners and road users contacting us on a daily basis that they cannot walk, cycle or do anything on the road because of the bushes hanging out. We are told a lovely excuse from the local authority that from March to September we cannot cut the hedges. They love to give that answer which is ridiculous. Health and safety and the protection of life and limb and well-being must be a priority above all else. That is why I am here. I am trying to achieve the balance.

Gun clubs and other clubs such as fishing clubs do Trojan work maintaining hedgerows. They want an organised burn of the hill for the gorse where I live, in Tipperary, on the Knockmealdown Mountains. They have done considerable work. In Monaghan, I have a brother-in-law involved in an organised burn in the Slieve Felim Mountains and they outed themselves to protect it and not go to NPWS. I would not encourage anyone to even light a match in this power-keg weather, but that is done at different times of the year to nurture the gorse and wildlife. There are a lot of misunderstandings about what they do. The Ardfinnan, Ballybacon, Grange and Newcastle, ABGN, Gun Club does Trojan work and have been doing it for 30 years. They have a wildlife sanctuary. They have a pond and a whole lot of wildlife in it. They had a wonderful Santa village there for everybody to see at Christmas time. They do Trojan work and I salute them from the bottom of my heart.

It is not merely ideology that one should not cut anything, let the growth hang out into the middle of the roads. If one comes out of a field with a tractor with an implement in front of it, one is as far as where the chathaoirleach is sitting away and out in the road before one can see where one is going whereas if the hedge is cut back, one is a quarter of that distance and the roads are safer, and cyclists and pedestrians can pass. The verges need not be cut but the overhanging ditches have to be cut.

I wondered where some of the Members were going but we must have road safety and adhere to health and safety. We are told about it in every other aspect of life but yet we want the sides of the roads in the country closing in and meeting each other. What good is that for tourists? They cannot see a signpost, a yield right of way sign or a directional sign, all of which are covered in the bushes. I see it in my area at the moment, with dangerous junctions not even cut. It is an excuse for many local authorities not to do the work that they should be doing. They did it when they had no machine when they had ordinary men with the slash and billhook. There is much hot air being spoken here.

It amazes me at times as well, following up on the recent referendum, we will mind the birds and the eggs but we have no problem with abortion and killing babies.


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