Green Party leader Eamon Ryan has promised not to arrest people’s grannies for burning turf and hit out at what he called “misinformation” surrounding a proposed ban on the sale of commercial peat this year.
The potential change has caused consternation among many residents of rural Ireland who rely on the fossil fuel to heat their homes.
However, the Environment Minister says that any ban will improve air quality and it will not apply to individuals cutting turf from their family bog.
“There’s huge misinformation and disinformation on this,” Minister Ryan told On The Record with Gavan Reilly.
“We will introduce a ban in September.
“It’s been something that has been ignored for decades.
“One Government to the other has said, ‘Oh, we will do it’ - but then shied away.
“And it is time to do it because 1,300 people a year are dying prematurely in our country [from air pollution] and we can’t ignore that.
“It is a ban on the distribution, on the sale, on the retailing [of commercial turf].”
Sinn Féin have criticised the proposal as something that “will cause huge difficulty in rural communities” and are due to bring a motion before the Dáil on the issue early next week.
“We know of people who would buy turf by the bag because they can’t afford to buy it any other way or they buy it by the trailer coming into the winter period,” Roscommon-Galway TD Claire Kerrane told Newstalk.
Minister Ryan criticised the party for not being serious about tackling climate change and said he was looking forward to defending the policy:
“The way we were depicted [by some] was that we were going to go in and arrest your granny for burning the wrong fuel,” he complained.
“That was never the case and I’m looking forward to the debates in the Dáil next week because I’m looking forward to what people say.
“Would we wait and allow another 1,300 people die prematurely?
“Would we wait [till] next winter when we have our trolley crisis and part of the problem is that at that most difficult time of year is when most people are in hospital because of respiratory problems that come with air pollution?”
Main image: Eamon Ryan. Picture by: Julien Behal.