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Minister of State McEntee warns rural dwellers to remain vigilant over the June Bank Holiday as the threat of future land fires remains

Following on from the extensive damage caused by land and forest fires during the May bank holiday weekend, Shane McEntee TD, Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine with responsibility for forestry has warned that "the threat of further acts of illegal land burning is a cause of concern as we approach the June bank holiday. Thousands of acres of land were affected by irresponsible acts of illegal scrub clearing and vandalism at the beginning of May, which caused millions of euro of damage to forests and other property and threatened the lives and livelihoods of many.  The extent of loss to wildlife and biodiversity remains incalculable."

Minister of State Mc Entee stated, "I urge all rural dwellers to remain vigilant in the run up to the June bank holiday and to take responsibility by reporting any suspicious activity to the Gardai.  The perpetrators of acts of criminal damage should be made to face prosecution, fines and imprisonment."  He added "When acts of carelessness or malicious damage involving land fires occur, the resources of the Emergency Services are stretched to the limit, putting at risk the lives of fire officers and members of the public alike.  Without the assistance of the Army and the Air Corps over the May bank holiday, the extent of damage to the nation's land resources would have been much greater."

Minister of State Mc Entee, once again, extended his appreciation to all those involved in combating the spate of land fires which have taken place since the spring of this year and reminded all landowners that the burning of growing vegetation on uncultivated land between March and September is illegal.  He also reminded members of the public who use the countryside and forests for recreational purposes to be careful, and to be aware of the risks regarding the lighting of barbeques and fires in rural areas during the summer months. 

Date Released: 31 May 2011