Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees

Wednesday, 5 July 2017

Joint Oireachtas Committee on Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs

Preserving Ireland's Natural Heritage: Discussion

2:15 pm

Mr. Phil Kearney:

To introduce a dose of reality, I appreciate that Deputies are fierce defenders of their local areas but we are defenders of the larger biosphere, of biodiversity in general. On resources, we have two full-time staff, one ecologist and one planner. Their joint incomes are less than the salary of a Deputy. Mr. Lumley is a volunteer and I and my fellow board members are volunteers. It is a compliment to us that we should be the focus of so much critique and attack with so few people.

Mr. Lumley has suggested that we would wish to collaborate. That is a genuine offer and promise. Please talk to us. It is difficult for the two staff to go around the country, so I would not like anyone to be under any illusions about the scale of our operation but it is clearly having an impact.

The difference in the 70 years of An Taisce's operation is that when it was initiated, it was reasonable to assume that things would continue in the future as they had been. This is no longer the case. The scale of the unprecedented threat which we now face, and which is confirmed by all significant scientists, is of such an order that we can no longer assume that the things we hold dear will still be there in the future. Members talked about a heritage plan over a five-year duration, but the latest scientific information suggests that in three years, we will fail to achieve the goals set by the Paris Agreement. The urgency is of that order. I encourage members to realise that we cannot assume that things will continue into the future as they are. We have to act urgently. This is a Government responsibility and as public representatives, I ask members to support that urgency.


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