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Minister of State McEntee appalled at fire damage over the weekend

Only two weeks after issuing a stark warning regarding the dangers of illegal burning of agricultural land, Shane McEntee TD, Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine with responsibility for forestry has stated "I am absolutely appalled at the flagrant disregard  for the law, property and people's lives due to the irresponsible and criminal behaviour of a small minority who continue to set land fires around the country.  The setting of fires for any purpose is highly irresponsible given the current dry and windy climatic conditions."

After what has been, according to forest industry sources, one of the worst weekends in the history of Irish Forestry for fire damage to State and privately owned forests, Minister McEntee said, "The cost of the damage to the national forestry estate as a result of these fires will run into many millions of Euro, while the risk to the safety of the Emergency Services personnel, landowners, forest owners and members of the public is immense.  I am calling on all rural dwellers, farmers, forest owners and landowners to co-operate fully with the Forest Service Inspectorat, as well as the Emergency Services and the Gardai in determining the source of these fires and in helping to identify the culprits, and I warn those responsible that criminal acts of this kind will not be tolerated."       

Minister McEntee further stated, "When the perpetrators of these acts of criminal damage are identified they will face the possibility of prosecution, fines and imprisonment.  I would also remind all forest owners to ensure that their forestry insurance is up-to-date, that firebreaks are in good condition, fire plans are in place and to report any fire losses to the Forestry Division of my Department."

Minister of State McEntee extended his thanks and appreciation to the Emergency Services, the Army, the Air Corps, the Gardai and all others involved for all their efforts in combating the consequences of these acts of gross irresponsibility.  He asks all rural dwellers to remain vigilant and to report any suspicious activities to the appropriate authorities immediately.   

Date Released: 04 May 2011