Government inaction and disinterest on this peat availability issue has created a crisis in the horticulture section, according to Sinn Féin Agriculture spokesperson Matt Carthy.
He said: “Industries such as the mushroom sector will be lost to Ireland without urgent action.”
Carthy described the “ludicrous scenes” of Latvian peat “being shipped across a continent to Ireland”, have been described by the Government’s Horticulture Peat report as not making “environmental, economic or ethical sense”.
Carthy made his comments following a response to a parliamentary question he put to Minister of State for Heritage Malcolm Noonan last week.
The Monaghan TD had queried the findings of the Government appointed working group on the use of peat in the horticulture sector.
“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 working group on this matter has confirmed as much.”
Carthy said the report in question “must be immediately published and acted upon" by Minister Noonan who he claimed has “had possession of this report for almost four weeks”.
Carthy continued: “The need for continued use of peat in the horticultural sector received widespread acknowledgement most prominently in September when it was reported that shipments of 4,000 tonnes of peat were arriving in Ireland from Latvia.”
Ahead of the publication of the full report, Carthy said: “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.”
He described how the current situation where Ireland needs to import more Latvian peat than would be required from domestic sources due to it being a “lesser productive product”, simply “reinforces” his point.
“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.”