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Tóibín: Peat Production Shortage Threatens Thousands of Jobs

Aontú Leader & Meath West TD Peadar Tóibín has raised concern and alarm over the threat to thousands of jobs within the Irish Horticulture Industry, attributable to the shortage of peat production.

An Teachta Tóibín: “There is a palpable fear in the Irish Horticulture Industry that theirs is the latest sector to face widespread job losses numbering thousands. This is due to an expected shortfall in peat production. One of Ireland’s leading nursery owners has warned that thousands of jobs are at risk in the Irish Horticulture Industry due to shortage of peat production. Larry Doran of Doran Nurseries in Timahoe ,Co Kildare says Bord Na Mona had previously promised that they had stored enough peat and compost allocated to them, to get growers through the next growing season. However, now the sector has gotten confirmation that on Friday the 11th of Dec, following a high-level meeting with the president of the IFA, Tim Cullinan and CEO of Bord na Mona, Tom Donnellan that there will not be any peat available to the nursery industry from March.”

“It is rumoured then that the remaining allocation is being diverted for packing in domestic garden compost for the Irish and being exported to the UK market. There’s rampant rumours of stockpiles of peat earmarked for every other use and sector other than the Nursery Sector. Peat is the essential growing medium that all growers use to produce their crops. Although an essential raw material for plant growth, the industry typically only uses 1% of Irelands Annual Peat Harvest. The twin concerns of pollution from peat burning and loss of biodiversity and habitat, has led to a complete cessation of peat harvesting since June 2020 due to legal and political challenges. The gross irony of this decision is collapsing the very industry that helps sustain Irelands biodiversity”.

“Nursery stock growers primarily located close to the midland bogs , produce millions of plants per annum that have a very positive contribution to our environment . Nurseries will be forced to import poor quality growing material, from the Balkans or Malaysia, 2,300km and 10,000km from our shores respectively. This will have a compounding detrimental effect on the environment, as we as a people strive to keep our obligations to the Paris Agreement. There is an epidemic failure within the government to understand the issues facing the environment and impact of short-term objectives and poor decisions on the entire horticulture industry. It appears that this locally based, long-standing and successful industry has been an unintended casualty of the environmental challenges that the country is facing. One of the gems of Irelands environmental battle is seriously threatened, by becoming the victim of the environmental war it is helping to fight. Time is critical. This is vitally urgent. To be clear there are two distinct issues here: Getting through the potting season 2021 and the continued use of horticultural peat going forward into the future which the government and Bord Na Mona need to address.”

By Aontú Press | 16 December, 2020

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