Independent MEP Marian Harkin this week expressed gratitude to those stakeholders actively trying to find a "real, lasting solution" for Turfcutters losing extraction rights on their family bogs due to EU environmental rules.
Harkin, who has monitored this issue closely for a number of years and has sought to act as an efficient intermediary between all relevant players, made this statement at a hearing of the European Parliament's Petitions Committee in Brussels.
The Ireland North & West MEP noted that while some mistakes have been made, overall both the Commission and Irish Government are being "solution-oriented, and real progress has been achieved".
She noted that "I am very pleased that my calls from earlier this year for common-sense solutions have been heeded. The government has engaged on an individual basis with affected Turfcutters, and has variously offered compensation, relocation, and at a number of sites where there are no viable relocation alternatives, is now exploring the possibility of future cutting being permitted.
"We also have a national management plan in place, and all these factors combined are giving us the best possible opportunity of a solution," she added. Incendiary language not solving anything
However, Harkin expressed disappointment at an Irish environmental group whose petition to the European Parliament "ignored the human dimension of this ongoing issue".
Friends of the Irish Environment criticised the Irish government for not being sufficiently hardline in its enforcement of bog protection. Harkin argued that "this conveniently ignores the need to strike a fine balance between adequate enforcement of EU legislation and adequate solutions for those families affected by these rules".
"All parties seeking an equitable solution to this highly sensitive issue will agree that the Commission has taken an admirably balanced approach and has today demonstrated a profound understanding of the Irish situation.
"However, Friends of the Irish Environment went a step further - indeed, a step too far - in suggesting that politics may interfere in this matter when Ireland holds the EU presidency in 2013 and that some nefarious political deal could be hatched in this regard.
"Furthermore, they suggested, as they did in November 2011, that the Commission should consider 'interim measures' against Ireland. In effect, this would mean immediate fines or sanctions before the European Court of Justice makes a final judgement on the case.
"These suggestions and this type of language is nonsensical, incendiary and counterproductive: it ignores the fact that there is hard work being done by multiple partners to find a solution - a real, lasting solution - to this complex issue. In light of some of the comments made today, Friends of the Irish Environment will be part of the problem, not part of the solution," she concluded.