A Quiet Rebellion

Turf being Harvested in Roscommon

Illegal Turf being Harvested in Roscommon

I’m putting up some pictures from the countryside in County Roscommon, where I live.

Situated in the Mid West of Ireland, just East of the constituency of the Taoiseach  (Prime Minister)  Enda Kenny’s County Mayo. Like a lot of people in “Austerity Ireland”, many Roscommon citizens find themselves dissatisfied with the government led by Mr. Kenny.

There are a number of reasons for this, and as this post is about the possible start of a rebellion, I will try to cover them all, albeit briefly. Though no doubt pedants would say I have over simplified the arguments.

Firstly, there is the general dissatisfaction felt by a lot of the electorate – with the new coalition government. Which was voted in with the expectation that it would make some attempts to clean up Irish politics. This has not happened, and sadly it has been business as usual, after a few cosmetic adjustments. 

As an example of this “gombeen” mentality, in next door County Mayo in the Prime Ministers / Taoiseach home town of Castlebar. Where despite huge government cut backs in spending, a new sports stadium is being built, using (so we are told) 10 million euros from the soon to be privatised National Lottery Fund.  I could go on – the fact of the matter is that Irish Politics finds itself unable to extract itself from the mire of corruption and cronyism that is its past.

Secondly, The County Hospital in Roscommon was singled out for the closure of its Accident & Emergency Department. This despite an assurance made on television, by Prime Minister Kenny,  as a very cynical pre election promise,  that there would be no closure. Put bluntly – the chances of you surviving a serious medical emergency in Roscommon are reduced.

The reason given for this closure was more bizarre. Apparently, there were Health & Safety issues at Roscommon Hospital which made it necessary for government to act by closing down the department. These Health & Safety Issues were to do with inadequate staffing, as a result of Government cost cutting. Thus government had to act to save lives. Should you require emergency treatment in the County the nearest Accident and Emergency Unit is over an hour away by ambulance.  It was later discovered that even the Health and Safety issues used for the closure were a government fabrication.  The reader may find out more about local political opposition to the closure from this website http://www.roscommonhospital.com/home.html

Thirdly, an issue that has been simmering for quite some time. And the point of this post.  A lot of the Energy used for domestic heating in Ireland comes from peat or “turf”. Ireland is a nation that is for the greater part devoid of the traditional fossil fuels – coal, oil and gas. This peat/turf is ancient vegetation that has rotted down in a wet bogland and is harvested and dried to be burnt as a low grade fuel.  In rural areas, such as Roscommon, many people own their own bog and use it to cut bricks of peat to be burnt on their household fires.

Indeed with the general increase in the price of Fuel Oil (Kerosene) and other fuels and the imposition of Carbon taxes and other duties raised by the new government to pay back the gambling debts of the Irish Banking System – Using your own harvested fuel has become, for many, the financial necessity it was in bygone years, before the so called “Celtic Tiger” era. 

Brussels – the EU – the unelected bureaucracy, that nowadays seems to resemble some benign form of Stalinism – has stepped into this mess. In fairness it did so about ten years ago but no one seemed to be listening.  It is concerned to preserve the Peat Bogs for future generations as they have a unique Flora and Fauna.

Various schemes have been conjured up by government to stop the harvesting of peat from these bogs, they usually involve a mixture of patronising bribes, with just a hint of blackmail, whereby the owner of the bog, gives up the right to harvest fuel from the bog, for a relatively small sum of money. Leaving them the proud owner of their own nature reserve – a very useless piece of land.

Now matters are coming to a head. One of the M.P.’s /T.D’s for Roscommon was elected to fight the turf cutting ban. The Independent Luke “Ming” Flanagan is a political campaigner who goes back to the nineties, someone who has campaigned for the legalisation of cannabis and spent a small time in jail for his beliefs. Making him literally – a conviction politician.

He was also the former Mayor of Roscommon before being elected to the Daíl (Parliament) in the recent election. With his pony tail and goatee beard and his failure to conform to the usual dress etiquette of politicians (Marks and Spencers suit and tie) he is often derided by the main stream media. Usually as a moron. You can find out more about this interesting and committed politician from this Wikipedia link. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Luke_Flanagan

Election Poster for Luke Flanagan

Election Poster for Luke Flanagan

Faced with demands to get tough on the peasantry, from its European Overlords, the government has now started to threaten the turf cutters. Though in truth there is not much they can do, as the number of Garda / Police that they employ in rural areas is quite small.  Various scare tactics have been employed. Involving suggestions such as using “spy satellites” or pressing the three aeroplanes owned by the Army into aerial surveillance.  A lot of sabre rattling has been going on. 

Last weekend I drove over one of the bog roads near my house and saw that it was being worked  There was a checkpoint after a fashion, provided by two cars on the road. The drivers of these vehicles  recognised my non hostile intention.  I went back this weekend and took my camera.

A storm in a teacup or the start of something bigger?

Taking Security Seriously on the Bog

Taking Security Seriously on the Bog

Peat Bricks being dried out

Peat Bricks being dried out

An illegal "stash" ready for transit

An illegal “stash” dried and ready for transit

 20th June 2012 – Things are hotting up in Portumna Co. Galway http://www.independent.ie/national-news/galway-turf-cutters-stay-out-overnight-to-protest-at-protected-bog-restrictions-3145719.html