Kerry man loses case to stop turf cutting prosecution

A Kerry man charged with cutting turf on a protected bog has lost an appeal of a High Court case aimed at stopping the prosecution of him and another man.

29-year-old Christopher McCarthy of Kilbaha, Moyvane, is charged with unauthorised turf-cutting on a designated area of conservation, Moanveanlagh Bog, outside Listowel.

He and another man are due before Kerry Circuit Court for allegedly extracting turf without authorisation.

Both Christopher McCarthy and another man are charged with extracting peat from the bog which is alleged to have significantly or adversely affected the integrity of the site contrary to regulation 35 and 67 of the European Communities (Birds and Natural Habitats) Regulations 2011.

If found guilty, they face a maximum jail sentence of three years and or a fine up to €500,000.

Both men assert that various families living on or near Moanveanlagh Bog have turbary rights and have taken turf from it for generations.

The offence with which the men are charged, the Court of Appeal heard, was created in September 2011 by way of ministerial regulations, which became Irish law.

However, it is their case that it was not within the powers of the Minister to create the offence in question in the manner that the Minister did.

Mr Justice Garrett Sheehan said the Minister acted within their powers in creating the indictable offence which was a necessary and proportionate measure required to ensure the proper implementation of the Directive.