NGOs: Recovery Plan “build back quick” rather than “build back better”

2 June 2021

The Government’s recently published Economic Recovery Plan “feels more like ‘build back quick’ than ‘build back better’”, according to environmental organisations.

Director of Friends of the Earth Oisín Coghlan commented that the €500 million towards ‘Advance the Green Transition’ is just a down payment on the much larger investment that is needed in retrofitting and public transport.

The Economic Recovery Plan 2021 was launched by the government yesterday, with the primary goal of achieving rapid job creation and economic growth after the pandemic.

In the launch of the Plan, the Government said that the investments are set to create a “green and digital job revolution.”

Minister for Climate Action Eamon Ryan noted how ensuring a Just Transition is central to the plan, as the country moves towards a new green economy.

“This plan will see a series of exciting investments in the areas of climate change, including a loan guarantee system to provide for the low-cost retrofitting of homes and ambitious spending on commuter rail in Cork,” he said.

Lack of transparency

Head of Advocacy at Birdwatch Ireland, Oonagh Duggan, says that it is imperative that these building retrofits enhance the biodiversity of species like birds and bats, and not cause harm.

She also welcomed the wastewater treatment plant upgrades, as it should improve water quality and aquatic biodiversity. However, she expressed disappointment around the Plan’s transparency.  

“Overall, the lack of transparency and poor public consultation with civil society associated with the plan is regrettable,” she said.

Speaking at the launch of the plan, Taoiseach Micheál Martin said that the plan aims to go beyond pre-pandemic employment levels, and to push forward with Ireland’s decarbonisation goals.

Civil society groups have noted that such an inclusive recovery will only be achieved with full engagement from all stakeholders involved.

As Yvonne O’Callaghan from SIPTU commented, if the government establishes the sectoral committees as promised in the Programme for Government, this could provide the platform to “plan the necessary strategies to meet the challenges ahead”, according to Yvonne O’Callaghan from SIPTU.

Director of the European Anti-Poverty Network, Paul Ginnell, said that he was “disappointed” with the plan, as it does not contain a commitment to setting welfare rates at an adequate level to afford a minimum essential standard of living.

”This plan should be judged on how it delivers in a real way on access to public services for everyone, on decent jobs, and on ensuring that everyone can afford the cost of living, whether in or out of work,” he said.

The Climate Action Plan and revised National Development Plan, a core pillar of the government’s Economic Recovery Plan, is now in the committee stages and is to be published in the coming months.

Story by Thomas Hamilton