Milltownpass Bog National Heritage Area Prosecution

A raised bog at Milltownpass in County Westmeath was at issue in a case before the High Court on July 10th. A local man Daragh Coyne had been committed four weeks previously to Mountjoy prison by Mr Justice Barr for breaching court orders against him obtained by the National Parks and Wildlife Service. Mr Coyne had defied these orders by cutting turf illegally and erecting a gate and signage on the bog.

The National Parks and Wildlife Service was concerned turf would be extracted from the NHA, because turf cutting equipment stored close to the where the material had been dumped.

The service claimed that in 2019 Mr Coyne had engaged a contractor to cut turf on the NHA and it was feared he would cut turf on the lands again in 2020.

Peat extraction from the bog was banned in 2017, the court heard.

On July 10th Mr Coyne came before the court and agreed to comply with the orders. He promised not to cut any turf on the site, which is partly owned by the Minister and by a member of Mr Coyne’s family.

Mr Justice Barr said that based on the undertakings given to the court by Mr Coyne he was satisfied that Mr Coyne had purged his contempt, and “was free to go home.”

The judge also agreed to a request by the service’s counsel James O’Donnell to adjourn the matter until late July to see if the undertakings have been complied with.

The bog at Milltownpass is located 1 km north-east of Milltownpass, in the townlands of Pass of Kilbride and Claremount or Cummingstown in County Westmeath. The site comprises a raised bog that includes both areas of high bog and cutover bog and can be accessed from the local road off the N6 to the east of the site.

The bog contains vegetation strongly representative of a high-quality midlands-type raised bog including some wet and quaking areas. Vegetation present includes Ling Heather, Hare’s-tail Cottongrass, White Beak-sedge, Cross-leaved Heath, Bog Asphodel,  Cranberry and Bog Rosemary.  It is of considerable importance especially given its easterly location.

Butterfly Conservation Ireland congratulates the National Parks and Wildlife Service for taking the case to protect the site. A well-staffed, vigilant and motivated service is vital for the task of protecting our heritage and we urge the new minister at the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Catherine Martin, to ensure the service has the resources it needs.