I am grateful to be given the opportunity to speak to this important debate. I would like to put on the record a statement that I have made before when we talked about the protection of wildlife and the protection of the future of our family farms. The people who are best able to protect our countryside, who know what is right for land and what is right for wildlife, are the people who own that land. I know of no farmer who would want to do anything to denigrate his or her farm or the wildlife that lives on it.
I would like to put to bed a couple of bits of nonsense that the Minister and others have to listen to. With regard to birds and bird habitats, a main reason that we are given why hedges on the sides of our public roads cannot be cut is that we cannot do it during the season in which it is deemed that birds would be foolish enough to put their nests on the side of busy roads. I have been observing wildlife as much as anybody throughout my life and I have never yet seen a bird be so stupid or foolish that it would want to put its nest on the side of a busy public road. There are plenty of other places to put a nest. If people were to come along and cut hedges, they would not do anything on the side of a public road that would bother or interfere with our bird life. I and others who are involved in farming and represent farmers on a daily basis have the practical common sense of having two eyes in our heads and being able to see what is around us. That is one thing that I would like to be put to bed.
There is no reason to stop people from cutting hedges on the sides of public roads in the interest of bird life. That is not true. It is simply not a fact that birds make nests on the side of the public road where lorries whiz by and buses brush off the sides. Why would they be so stupid as to do that? Many politicians seem to jump up and down, saying that one cannot cut any hedge because one might interfere with bird life. That is an absolute nonsense.
When legislators come into the House, one of the first things they should do is seriously listen to the farming community, the people who own the land and the people who represent the farming community, such as the Irish Farmers Association, IFA, and the Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers Association, ICMSA, people who deal on a daily basis with farmers and the groups which represent them. I was very grateful to the Minister, and will be looking for a further written reply, that she was kind enough to meet a group of farmers from Moanveanlagh and other bogs where they were debarred from cutting turf. They were stopped on a very false premise. We are looking to get those people back into action, and get them doing what they were good at, cutting and saving turf, and putting fires for themselves, a thing that their fathers, grandfathers and grandmothers did before them. We want to see them and the future generations being able to cut turf again as they did in the past.
I will be looking for an update on that from the Minister in the next ten days. The people are looking for an update and it is good for the Minister to know that. There are traditions in country life that are very important, whether it comes to cutting turf or to this year when people were fortunate enough to be able to save hay. Despite that we looked for a derogation from the Minister relating to 1 July, we did not get what we were looking for. At the same time, we tried our best to make common sense prevail.
If the Minister let us down on the first Sunday, perhaps the weather will not now anyway and people will be able to get hay from those grounds on which they were debarred from cutting hay on 1 July. I have always said that calendar farming is a nonsense because one quite simply cannot have a situation where one can predict what the weather is going to be like and therefore tell people to farm in accordance with the calendar. One cannot do that. One could often have a better January or February than July or August when it comes to spreading slurry and other such business. Those are things that have to be taken into account.
I was not in the Chamber but I heard Deputy Fitzmaurice's contribution. I thought it was worthwhile and sound and nothing less than I would have expected from him. It is nice for people to know what they are talking about when it comes to burning. It is also nice for them to understand how important burning is and to have a common sense approach. There are only certain times of the year when one can burn, quite simply because the place will bloody well not burn. The killing thing about it is that when one does not want it to burn, it will burn and if one wants it to burn one cannot get it to burn at all. That is the climate we are living in. People think that we can legislate while ignoring common sense issues such as the weather, the climate and we are living in, but allowances must be made for such issues. That is why I would like to see common sense prevail. We went from one extreme to the other. Hills were overgrown, then completely bare and now they are overgrown again because of people in Europe and various forums making laws when they did not know the first thing about what they were talking about. If any of them had a bit of practical common sense they would not engage in half the nonsense and rubbish they talk. More reports are compiled and forums brought together and very little good comes out of an awful lot of them. All it takes is a bit of practical common sense to know what we need in rural Ireland to survive, to keep places in order and from being overgrown and to make sure that vegetation that should be burnt to allow regeneration is burnt at a time when it can be burnt and not to have some person with a suit telling people when they should try to burn it and when they should not try to burn it.