Dáil debates

Tuesday, 26 June 2018

Ceisteanna - Questions

National Risk Assessment

4:15 pm

Photo of Micheál MartinMicheál Martin (Leader of the Opposition; Cork South Central, Fianna Fail) | Oireachtas source

I agree with the Green Party. It is correct that the issue of biodiversity should be explicitly addressed in the national risk assessment following the consultation period. The biggest reason for this is that existing commitments under the national biodiversity plan have not been implemented, and the greatest failings are linked directly to a lack of Government co-ordination and inaction. The latest biodiversity plan was published five years ago by the previous Government. Only one quarter of the specific recommendations and commitments in the plan have been implemented. For the 10% of commitments in which no progress has been made, the main issue is a failure of co-ordination in government and to communicate with the public.

The communications failure is interesting, particularly as the objective was public education but the reality was Government brand-building and promotion. The latter is very similar to the approach the Taoiseach has been imposing across Government.

Given the failures in the previous plan, can the Taoiseach indicate if he has taken any steps to ensure that this new plan will be implemented with urgency? I agree with the comments that have been made. We are reliant on non-governmental organisations, NGOs. For example, in the area of beekeeping and preservation of our bees, it is the NGOs that are developing action programmes and plans. In the context of what Deputy Boyd Barrett said regarding broadleaf trees, etc., there is similarly a lack of Government co-ordination and action on that front.

I have often wondered what inspired the Heritage Bill 2016. Who was behind it? In view of the Department from which it originated, it was, from any perspective, quite absurd in the context of its provisions hedge-cutting and so on. What inspired the Minister? Who lobbied? Who was behind it and for what reason? It jars with our overall objectives and agenda in preserving our national biodiversity, which is at risk. We have been warned about this for years and decades. It should be explicitly part of a national risk assessment.

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