Tánaiste says turf ban 'can't be paused because it's not agreed yet'

Eamon Ryan has denied he is at odds with Leo Varadkar over the move
Jack Quann
Jack Quann

11.42 14 Apr 2022

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Tánaiste says turf ban 'can't...

Tánaiste says turf ban 'can't be paused because it's not agreed yet'

Jack Quann
Jack Quann

11.42 14 Apr 2022

Share this article

A ban on the sale of turf cannot be paused, as the plans have not yet been agreed by the Government.

That's according to Tánaiste Leo Varadkar, who was responding to comments by Environment Minister Eamon Ryan.

The rule is due to come into force in September under new solid fuel regulations.


It has been strongly criticised in rural Ireland.

Mr Ryan earlier denied he was at odds with the Tánaiste over the move.

Mr Varadkar said on Wednesday night the ban was being paused because of the current energy crisis.

But Mr Ryan told Newstalk: "No, there's not a pause.

"That was a comment to a Fine Gael parliamentary party meeting, which is not a public meeting.

"I think we could obsess about who said what in parliamentary party meetings.

"We'll work together to make sure the regulations work".

Responding to Mr Ryan's comments on The Pat Kenny Show, Mr Varadkar says his wording could have been wrong.

"It's just semantics - maybe saying 'the regulations are paused' isn't the right words.

"They're not agreed, so they can't be paused because they haven't even been agreed yet - and I haven't seen them.

"I'm not even sure if they exist in black and white yet."

He says draft regulations and an impact analysis will be produced after Easter.

"We'll bring it to the three parties to discuss and we'll make a decision then.

"If we can agree I'm sure we can have them in place for the 1st of December.

"But I haven't seen the regulations yet - and in a coalition you operate on the basis of good faith and no surprises.

"And nothing is agreed until the three parties agree it, and it hasn't been agreed as yet."

'That would be going too far'

However he says he does agree that more needs to be done.

"I do want to say that I absolutely accept that we need to take more action on air quality.

"I'm a medical doctor, I know that the little particles that come off from turf and from coal and from wet wood - they get into your lungs, they get into your blood, they get into your heart and brain.

"So we definitely need to take more action on our air quality, I very much support that.

"But we also have to be sensitive to traditional practices".

Citing an example from a Mayo village, where his partner Matt Barrett is from, he says an outright ban may go too far.

"Everyone there has a bit of bog, and they cut the bog during the summer and use it as fuel during the winter.

"If there's an elderly person in the area, for example, they might give them some turf for the winter - or might even sell some turf to a neighbour who can't cut their own bog, or doesn't have enough bog.

"And that is sale and distribution - and I don't think we should make that illegal.

"I think that would be going too far, I think it would be a sledgehammer to crack a nut".

Tánaiste says turf ban 'can't be paused because it's not agreed yet'

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Main image: Men cutting turf in a peat bog field in Ireland in April 2019. Picture by: Gabriel Cassan / Alamy Stock Photo

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