Green Party leader Eamon Ryan said the government will not put anyone “in jail for burning peat” after a coalition dispute over a peat ban.
Inister Ryan insisted this morning that the ban has not been suspended, despite Tánaiste Leo Varadkar telling his parliamentary group last night that it would be suspended.
Mr Varadkar told Newstalk Radio that it was a matter of “semantics” and that the ban could not be paused as it had not even been agreed.
Mr Ryan said this morning that the ban, which was due to come into effect in September, is still ongoing but the details of the rules have yet to be worked out.*
He said the three party leaders discussed the issue at their weekly meeting on Monday.
“We agreed to come back and get the details right and how we’re going to fix that,” he said.
“It’s not ‘we’re going to put your grandma in jail for burning peat down the street,’ but it’s going to be real where we improve air quality.”
He said he spoke to Mr Varadkar last night and the Greens leader was confident Fine Gael and the Greens would “work together”.
“Our teams work well together, so I’m absolutely happy that we can overcome our differences,” he said.
“There is broad agreement here that we will introduce the smoke coal ban, that legally this means that the quality of wood and other solid fuels must then also be regulated, everyone agrees.
“[the idea of] “Oh, that’s the Greens telling the people of rural Ireland what to do.” That’s not true.”
Minister Ryan said people will “of course” still be able to burn their own turf and he said this was “made unclear” in the past week to “scare people”.
“We’re not going to regulate anyone in their own swamp and we made that clear from the start,” he said.
He said the ban should target “the big demolition systems, the quality of the wood, the quality of the charcoal.”
Although Mr Ryan insisted the ban was still in place, European Affairs Secretary Thomas Byrne, Fianna Fáil, was unable to confirm whether or not that was the case when speaking to reporters at the Global Ireland Summit in Dublin Castle.
“Secretary Eamon Ryan is the person asking this question,” he said when asked if the ban was still in effect.
The Meath East TD said there was “no doubt” there needed to be a transition to a carbon neutral economy and that later today he would visit his own wife’s home district which is “in the middle of grassland”.
Mairead McGuinness, Fine Gael MEP and EU Commissioner for Financial Stability, said there was a need to “listen very carefully” to how the public feels about a possible ban.
“The government is working to resolve these issues by listening to and addressing genuine concerns,” she said.
Taoiseach Micheál Martin said that there are different perspectives on the issue within the government, but that they aim to resolve it in a “practical and reasonable way”.
“It is not and was not intended to prevent people with their own moors or people sharing lawns, caring for neighbors and so on, such historic rights, from being affected in any way, but there will be more Talks between the three parties and the Government are underway to resolve this issue,” Mr Martin told Galway Bay FM on Thursday.
Speaking to Newstalk, Mr Varadkar made it clear that he would not support banning people from selling a few sacks of peat to their neighbours. “I don’t think we should make this illegal,” he said.
“I think that would be taking it too far, I think it would be a sledgehammer to crack a nut and you know we need to sit down and work out something practical.”
The finance minister also today defended the decision not to cut VAT on heating oil as part of the government’s package of measures to deal with the living crisis.
Paschal Donohoe said that while the government can help offset the rising costs, it cannot take all the action it has requested.
The government unveiled its latest package of measures on Wednesday to ease the financial pressure on families and households.
The VAT rate for gas and electricity will be reduced to 9 percent from May 1 to the end of October, at an estimated cost of 46 million euros.
The government said the latest steps would offset the increase in carbon taxes due to take place early next month.
Ministers also agreed to reduce the excise duty on marked gas oil by 2.7 percent from May 1.
Mr Donohoe claimed the government couldn’t lower VAT on heating oil at home because of EU laws.
“While I accept that this feels a little removed from the cost of living challenges, overall it’s really in the interest of a small exporting country like Ireland within the European Union that we have clear laws on VAT, because that Again, this helps us sell our goods and services in other countries,” he told RTÉ.
Ireland is already phasing out industrial production of peat for fertilizer and briquettes to heat homes to meet climate change targets, as peat and turf are among the most polluting fuels for both carbon emissions and airborne particulate matter.
Bord na Mona’s facilities in the Midlands have already closed and the government has provided Just Transition funds to retrain local workers.
However, current soaring fuel prices have led to calls for the industry to reopen and a postponement of the ban on what remains of lawn mowing.
https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/politics/your-granny-wont-go-to-prison-for-burning-turf-says-eamon-ryan-as-he-denies-ban-has-been-paused-41553753.html “Your grandma won’t go to jail for burning lawns,” says Eamon Ryan, as he denies the ban was “stopped.”