Fine Gael and Greens on collision course after Tánaiste tells TD turf ban is ‘paused’


tanaiste Leo Varadkar went on a collision course with the Greens last night after telling his party that a plan to ban the sale of turf in September would be suspended.

The coalition is now at odds after a spokesman for Mr Ryan denied there was a pause in the plan.

They said: “Minister Ryan agreed to look into the implementation of the regulations but there was no agreement on a pause.”

Mr. Varadkar announced the break at a Fine Gael Group meeting last night, hours after the Environment Minister Eamon Ryan defended the train vehemently.

News of the impending ban has sparked a backlash from rural backbenchers in Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil.

Mr Varadkar reportedly told TDs and Senators at last night’s session that “it would be like telling the French they can’t have wine, or the Italians they can’t have pasta, telling those who cut peat and sell that they could no longer do this”.

He did not provide any information about the duration of the break.

The Tánaiste informed the meeting that he had been contacted by a large number of Fine Gael TDs on the subject. The move to pause all lawnmowing changes was widely welcomed, including by backbenchers Brendan Griffin and Joe Carey, and Senators Seán Kyne, Tim Lombard and Aisling Dolan.

Longford-based Sen. Micheál Carrigy told the meeting he hadn’t seen such a harsh reaction to the sod cutting proposal since the backlash against water pricing nearly a decade ago.

Earlier this week it emerged that Mr Ryan, the leader of the Green Party, intended to push ahead with plans to ban turf sales, prompting a backlash from the coalition’s backbenchers.

Fianna Fáil TD for Offaly Barry Cowen said the proposal amounted to a total ban on the commercial sale of turf and said he would meet Mr Ryan to discuss the plan.

“With the ban on selling at petrol stations, retail or curbside we can live with it, but there should be a provision for dependent households and bog owners/tailors,” he said.

Another backbencher, Tipperary TD Jackie Cahill, told Tipp FM earlier this week, “To ban the sale or gift of turf without offering an immediate, viable and inexpensive alternative is just not hip.”

Last week Minister Ryan outlined the move in response to a parliamentary question from Fine Gael TD Brendan Griffin.

Asked by the Kerry TD whether people will be able to keep cutting and selling peat after September 2022, when new solid fuel regulations are due to come into force, Minister Ryan said: “You [the new regulations] needed as around 1,300 people die prematurely each year in Ireland from air pollution caused by burning solid fuels.”

He said that while action is needed to reduce emissions associated with peat burning, “law mowing by citizens for use in their own homes … is a tradition that is respected.”

He said there will be a ban on the “sale or distribution of sod peat,” however.

Meanwhile, Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe ruled out further anti-inflation measures ahead of the budget yesterday – after unveiling a package of measures to tackle the rising cost of living

“I have now taken all the measures I can,” he said after cutting VAT on gas and electricity bills from 13.5 percent to 9 percent from May 1 to the end of October 31.

He said he had “no plans and no capacity” to do more.

An emergency scenario for the rest of the year from their own department envisages a further increase in oil and gas prices. Inflation would then in turn continue to rise – by another 2pc.

However, the reduction in VAT elsewhere will result in annual savings of more than 50 euros on gas and 70 euros on electricity, the minister said.

Social Protection Secretary Heather Humphries will also make an additional payment of €100 to more than 370,000 vulnerable households receiving fuel subsidies. Fine Gael and Greens on collision course after Tánaiste tells TD turf ban is ‘paused’

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