How to stop gorse fires? Change Government policy to better help UPLAND farmers

26 April 2021
By Elaine Murphy

Government and CAP policies failing to protect our uplands from gorse fires – says West Cork TD Holly Cairns

Reacting to the destructive weekend fires in Killarney National Park, Social Democrats TD Holly Cairns has called on the Minister for Agriculture to ensure the sustainable protection of uplands in ongoing CAP reform negotiations.

Holly, who is the party’s spokesperson on Agriculture, said:

“Although the devastating fire in the Killarney is the most prominent one, there have been similar fires across the country in recent weeks, including in West Cork. The rhetoric from Government that gorse fires are the result of careless visitors is just not good enough. We must also recognise that some of these fires are set deliberately to clear land.

“The reality of the matter is that Government agricultural policy and parts of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) are geared towards certain types of farming, and have neglected the needs of upland farmers. Only last week in the Dáil, the Opposition were calling on the Minister to oppose changes to the new CAP, which would see the exclusion of rich carbon soils, including uplands and drained peatlands, from basic payments.

“The Department of Agriculture should have ambitious policies in place for sustainable use of these lands, including habitat restoration schemes, afforestation and payments for carbon sequestration.

“Ultimately, this is a cross-departmental issue which requires greater focus and commitment from the Government. I am calling on the Minister for Agriculture to ensure the sustainable protection of uplands in the CAP negotiations.”

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