Limerick businessman selling turf as “mud” in protest at proposed ban on sale of fossil fuels

Hospital businessman Eric McNulty selling his decorative mud. Photo: Liam Burke/Press 22.

A County Limerick businessman is advertising his turf logs as “mud” in a “tongue-in-cheek” protest at the government’s proposed ban on the sale of peat and other fossil fuels.

Eric McNulty, who owns and runs a filling station, shop, and fuel store in the town of Hospital is advertising “bags of decorative hardened Irish mud for sale, ornamental use only not to be urned in a fire”.

A banner on a shopping trolley outside his business also reads: “The Eamon Ryan Winter Trolley: He wants to outlaw everything on here, so buy your fuel now before he bans it”.

When asked about it, Mr McNulty said: “It’s a trolley full of timber, turf, kindling, brockets, gas, it’s only a tongue-in-cheek thing as we come into the winter.”

However, Mr McNulty claimed the proposed ban on the sale of turf, which is the brainchild of the Green Party leader and Minister for the Environment, Eamon Ryan, will hit his business and his customers hard as the colder weather sets in.

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“Joking aside though, the politicians are trying to ban absolutely everything that I am selling at the moment, and you can only take so much of that,” said Mr McNulty.

Ironically, Mr McNulty is qualified to work in the renewable energy sector, and said he understands Ireland has to try to meet its requirements of halving its greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 and reach net zero by 2050.

However, he argued the government has little or no alternatives to fossil fuels and it does not have the infrastructure to incentivise a switch from diesel and petrol vehicles to electric.

“My qualifications are actually in renewable energy, I worked in the UK in renewable energy-planning for a few years and moved back to Ireland about ten years ago as there was no (steady) work in that area.”

“So, I flipped completely and went selling fossil fuels as opposed to renewable energy, which is a paradox in itself — but, the fact was, there was no work in renewable energy and there still isn’t a whole pile in it.”

“What I find funny is that the government is trying to get people to change from burning fossil fuels, which I understand and admire and I completely get, but there is no alternative.”

“They closed down the peat producing plants last year and now they are importing briquettes from Latvia and Germany, which aren’t as good a quality as Irish briquettes, so they are actually increasing our carbon footprint.”

Mr McNulty said he agrees renewable energy “is the future, but at the moment, it is not feasible, it is complete madness, they have jumped into all of this with two feet and have not got alternatives”.

“They are also telling us that there may be electricity cuts and blackouts this year, and what is the one thing you can always rely on when there is a blackout — your fire to heat your home.”

“They want fires to be a thing of the past but they are not planning enough for the future.”