Donegal Sinn Féin TDs Pádraig Mac Lochlainn and Pearse Doherty have said that the Government must learn lessons from the gorse fires which have affected large parts of rural Ireland over recent weeks.
Deputy Doherty commended the great work of all those who put their safety at risk in order to tackle the fires.
He said: “I want to commend the fire services and all those ordinary people with no formal training who put their own safety at risk over the past number of days in order to bring raging gorse fires under control.
“While the action of the fire crews and army personnel are to be commended it has been the people’s army – ordinary citizens who have shown outstanding courage and community solidarity that has been inspiring.
“It is clear that the Government has not given the fires the attention deserved. There has been no sense of emergency and there are some serious lessons to be learned. The trail of devastation that these fires have left in their aftermath has been massive. Family homes have been destroyed and many others damaged, many farmers livelihood -the land- has been wiped out and substantial damage has been caused to farm fences and forestry.”
Deputy Mac Lochlainn called on the Government to reverse the destocking directive which has been seen by many to have contributed greatly to the spread of the fires.
He said: “The Minister must examine the extent to which state regulation has contributed to this problem in that forced destocking on commonage in 1998 has resulted in grass and heather growing out of control in these areas; providing a ready and volatile body of fuel for disastrous fires. What we have witnessed was fires literally waiting to happen due to EU and Government dictate.
“Many farmers’ livelihoods are in tatters because of these fires. There are lessons to be learned here, the first being that the irrational destocking decision must be reversed before we add more fuel for future countryside fires”