Cad a dhéanfaimid feasta gan adhmad? Tá deireadh na gcoillte ar lár… Remember how passionately we sang that great Irish song ‘Cill Cais’ when we were in school. A lament for Cill Cais and the great Irish forests. Well, it’s time to start singing the song once again and time to reinvigorate the spirit and passion we felt back then when we sang about a foreign power taking ownership of our Irish forests, writes Ed O’Riordan.
“Unfortunately, it’s no longer just a piece of Irish history, but a dreadful scenario that faces us in the very near future. That is, if we remain silent and allow the Irish Government to sell off the harvesting rights of Ireland’s forests under orders from the so-called Troika.”
Ed continues: “And guess who is the chairman of one of the leading groups (International Forestry Fund) which wants to buy our forests? One Mr Bertie Ahern. Yes, that Bertie Ahern, the self-proclaimed socialist.
“But, that’s not the big issue. The big issue is the selling of the forests. What next – grazing rights of the Phoenix Park? Toll gates on Stephens Green? Farms experiencing mortgage difficulties being taken by foreign investors? Every small farm that comes up for sale? The water in the rivers and lakes? Who knows? Are these not resources and national assets just as the woods are?
“Oh, how pathetic we must seem to the rest of the world! We don’t own the fish in our oceans, we have signed away the wealth in oil and gas under the oceans floors and now we are going to sell the very trees that grow on our mountains – the mountains so loved by tourists from all over the world as much as ourselves.”
Ed O’Riordan asks readers to please remember that these forests are indeed ours! “They are not owned by Fine Gael and Labour or the Troika or the bailed out banks. They are ours – the people of Ireland. They are managed in magnificent fashion by Coillte and due care has always been given to the environment and the rights of the people to walk, ramble, jog, cycle etc., in the most beautiful environment in Europe. But of course we will be ‘guaranteed’ that the right to walk and ramble in the woods will be retained, sure ‘twill be written into the contract. Believe me, such assurances will mean nothing. There will be so many ‘opt out’ clauses that the guarantees will be meaningless.”
Just picture the scene at Glengarra, or Ballyhoura, or Aherlow, the Comeraghs or the Knockmealdowns – you arrive at your favourite woods and find the barriers down and ‘keep out’ signs up. No access – we are invoking the right to refuse access by virtue of clause xxx relating to harvesting or spraying, or animal disease, or danger, or insurance, or previous dumping, or nesting time in the forest, or squirrel culling in progress or whatever. A clause will be found.
“And think of the condition of the forests when the eighty years contract period is up? Will the hills and mountains of Ireland still be glorious with green forests or will the investment companies exercise their right to remove every last tree for sawn logs or wood pulp. And why sell this great national asset if it is capable of returning 8% per annum? Isn’t it better that we retain ownership, retain thousands of jobs, retain some dignity and avail of the 8% return, not to mention the benefit of having this most magnificent and beneficial facility available to us where we might find some peace in our stressful lives!”
And, says Ed. The burning question – what will you tell your children and grandchildren when they ask what you did to prevent this from happening? “Don’t leave it to others to act for you. Get involved before it’s too late. Form or join a protest group without delay and lobby every politician in the Dáil. And sign the online petition – search for Help Save Irelands Forests.”