Teagasc comments expose government ‘hypocrisy’ on horticultural peat – Matt Carthy TD
Sinn Féin spokesperson on Agriculture, Matt Carthy TD, has said that witness testimony from Teagasc representatives at the Oireachtas Agriculture Committee last weeks confirms the hypocrisy at the heart of government policy regarding horticultural peat harvesting.
Representatives of Teagasc were appearing before the Committee to discuss the Climate Action Plan, and stated ‘at the moment, the only feasible alternative is to look at importation’ in response to a question from Deputy Carthy on the matter.
Teachta Carthy said:
“Over the past several months the government have been informed of the existential threat posed to the horticulture sector in Ireland by a ban on harvesting of horticultural peat.
“Peat is an absolute pre-requisite for the horticultural sector in Ireland – a sector that contributes significantly to jobs and local economies in rural Ireland. It includes the mushroom industry, a pivotal player in the economy of my Cavan Monaghan constituency.
“In discussing these matters, Green Party Ministers have repeatedly referred to peat alternatives despite receiving continued explanations that such alternatives do not exist.
“Now it has been irrefutably confirmed that the only alternative that will be to actually immediately commence the importation of peat from other countries.
“This is an illogical position that will accrue no benefit to the environment. It exposes as absolute farce commitments by government to a Just Transition.
“In fact, the Just Transition Commission itself went to great lengths to highlight that harvesting of horticultural peat is entirely different to the practice harvesting peat as a fossil fuel. This is just yet another example of the outworking of Green Party policies which apparently aim to raise standards at home while exporting the climate crisis to other parts of the world.
“How can anyone, let alone multiple Green Party Ministers advocate that it is more environmentally sustainable to import a raw material from abroad, than harvest it at home?
“The fear of course is that rather than leading to the importation of peat, that this will actually lead to the exportation of the horticultural industry, and associated jobs, abroad.
“I, and I believe those involved in the horticulture industry and the communities that depend on it, will absolutely welcome any research into alternatives and research in this area should be prioritised.
“In the mean-time, however, we have to cease the hypocrisy. We cannot allow thousands of jobs in rural Irish communities to be put at risk at the whim of Green Party tokenism. Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael representatives must call this hypocrisy out before it’s too late to save this industry”.