Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees

Wednesday, 28 March 2018

Joint Oireachtas Committee on Housing, Planning and Local Government

Prohibition of Micro-Plastics Bill 2016: Discussion (Resumed)

9:30 am

Photo of Seán SherlockSeán Sherlock (Cork East, Labour) | Oireachtas source

I thank the members. I thank the officials and the academics for their attendance today because I believe that having this opportunity to interact with them is a crucial part of the legislative process. I view it as a free tutorial, for which I am very grateful. I also thank the Chair and the members of the committee for facilitating the discussion this morning.

The key point that emerges from the evidence before us is that there is no doubt but that there is clear evidence of the presence of microfibres and microbeads in sea life and on land, having been washed ashore. The witnesses have presented clear evidence of that today. The Dublin Bay prawn presented is a very distinct piece of evidence to that effect. I believe this makes the legislation all the more worthwhile in that sense.

I appreciate the point being made about the legislation I have introduced. It deals specifically with microbeads that, according to the presentation, represent a small fraction in sea life and flora and fauna. However, my Bill is a first or a second cut. This is an iterative process and I am not tied to the fact that it should deal only with microbeads. I am quite happy for it to be amended in any way to reflect the realities of the science presented before us. If that means dealing with microfibres or any other particles present that fall into the general microplastic group, then I have no qualms about that whatsoever. The key thing is that we are at a juncture where we are acknowledging there is a need to legislate on this issue. It needs to be done post-haste.

My first question is to the officials, namely, Mr. Harrington and Mr. O'Connor. They mentioned that the heads of a Bill will come before us or that a Bill is being worked on. Can they be more specific on when that Government Bill will come before the House?


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