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Minister of State McEntee urges vigilance and restraint as the threat of land fires remains

Shane McEntee TD, Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine with responsibility for forestry has reminded forest owners, managers and the public alike that despite the recent wet weather, the risk of land and forest fires will remain in certain parts of the country over the Bank Holiday weekend.

While recent heavy rainfall reduced the risk of land or forest fires, Met Eireann's Fire Weather Index (FWI) takes into account factors such as temperature, wind conditions and humidity and is warning of high risk conditions for fire in parts of the west and north-west between now and the bank holiday on Monday the 7th of May.

The Minister reminded land owners that it is illegal to burn growing vegetation on land not cultivated between 1st March and 31st August and of the potentially disastrous and life-threatening consequences of illegal and uncontrolled fires.

Minister McEntee said: "As the State continues to count the cost of the devastating fires which ripped through parts of the country exactly one year ago, particularly in the north west, I would ask land owners, forest owners and managers, and members of the public to help ensure that such a scenario is not repeated during this coming bank holiday weekend."

"I also call on rural dwellers and holiday makers to maintain their vigilance, to report any suspicious activity to the Gardai and to report any uncontrolled or unattended fires immediately to the Fire and Emergency Services.  As well as protecting property, you may be helping the Gardai and Emergency Services to save lives”.

Minister McEntee said that officials of his Department have been working with representatives of the Fire and Emergency Services and the Gardai at local level to combat the problem and those found to be engaging in illegal land burning will be prosecuted. Farmers who engage in such activity may also face penalties on their Direct Payments.

Date Released: 04 May 2012