May 19th, 2016
Taoiseach Enda Kenny’s decision to abolish Ireland’s Department for the Environment has been met with public outrage.
In just two days some 7,000 people have signed a petition to have the department reinstated amid fears the move will damage Ireland’s healthy environment and in turn our citizens and economy.
This came following the decision of the Fine Gael minority government to spread three environmental functions – water, waste and wildlife – across three government departments.
BirdWatch Ireland, An Taisce, the Irish Wildlife Trust, and Friends of the Earth worked together to develop the petition which is available on the campaign website my.uplift.ie.
The Environmental Pillar, an advocacy coalition of 28 Irish national environmental NGOs, reacted to the removal of the Department of the Environment saying: “Without strong leadership in this area and someone responsible for this at the highest level of government we are risking environmental harm which will have serious impacts for everyone.”
Friends of the Earth have described it as an act of ‘environmental vandalism’.
The Department of the Environment has disappeared and the functions previously served by this will be split across three departments :
- The Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government, under Minister Simon Coveney, will include Irish Water
- The Department of Communications, Climate Change and Natural Resources, under Minister Denis Naughten, will include waste and pollution
- The Department of Regional Development, Rural Affairs, Arts and the Gaeltacht, under Minister Heather Humphreys, will include wildlife and nature
The Environmental Pillar shared its concern in a recent press release about the absence of a proper Department dedicated to the Environment : “We fear that if no department is given a clear mandate to protect the natural environment then, like the National Park & Wildlife Service, it will lead to severe losses to biodiversity, damage to the natural systems that provide us with clean air and water, and support food production. Protecting Ireland’s environment in the long term supports livelihoods and the rural economy for now and future generations.”
Also, as pointed out by Oisín Coghlan, Friend of the Earth director, this change appears only six months after Ireland signed the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for 2030. This initiative targets sustainable development in its three dimensions : economic, social and environmental. Within the SDGs, various directives directly concern the principal challenges facing our environment, among them : taking urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts and the sustainable management of forests, combating desertification, halting and reversing land degradation and halting biodiversity loss, a vast program that should be managed by a specific department.
The NGO announced its call for a re-integration of all environmental functions under Denis Naughten with the title ‘Minister for Environment and Energy’ and in support of this a petition is currently open to demand the return of the Department.Click here to sign to the petition against the abolition of the Department of the Environment