November 15, 2021
Government must publish and act on Horticultural Peat report – Matt Carthy TD

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Agriculture, Matt Carthy TD, has said that the reported findings of the government appointed working group into the use of peat in the horticulture sector “must be immediately published and acted upon”.

The need for continued use of peat in the horticultural sector received widespread acknowledgement most prominently in September when it was reported that a shipments of 4,000 tonnes of peat were arriving in in Ireland from Latvia.

Teachta Carthy said:

“There are currently no alternatives to the use of peat for the horticultural sector.  It now appears that the final report of the chairperson of the government appointed chair of the working group on this matter has confirmed as much.

“Government inaction and disinterest on this issue has created a crisis in the Horticulture section.  Industries such as the Mushroom sector will be lost to Ireland without urgent action.

“The ludicrous scenes of peat, harvested in Latvia, being shipped across a continent to Ireland, have apparently been described by the report as not making ‘environmental, economic or ethical sense’.

“Considering that Ireland needs to import more Latvian peat than would be required for domestic sources, as it is a lesser productive product, simply re-enforces that point.

“According to a response to me via Parliamentary Question, Minister of State Malcolm Noonan has had possession of this report for almost four weeks.  He must publish it in full immediately, and he must act on it without delay.

“Minister Noonan cannot wish alternatives into being – and he cannot sit on this report even if he does not like its findings.  It will require time and resources to develop those alternatives, but government inaction is distracting from that objective.

“The current legislative framework is not conducive to the continued extraction of this critical horticultural substrate meaning that new legislation is clearly required.

“I agree entirely with the reported findings that this legislation must be brought before the Houses of the Oireachtas as an absolute priority.  

“The implications of failing to act on this report’s findings are stark.  The importation of peat will continue while thousands of jobs could be lost, particularly in the mushroom sector resulting in the large-scale importation of horticulture produce that could and should be produced in Ireland.

“Government must publish the report of the working group that they established, and they must immediately act on it.  If Minister of State Noonan refuses to do so then his senior Minister, Darragh O’Brien must intervene.”

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