Wednesday, 4 July 2018
Heritage Bill 2016: Report Stage (Resumed) and Final Stage
I listened with interest to the contributions and I do not want an urban-rural divide in any shape or form. We need to mend those fences rather than have such division. As was said, we live on a small island and we have to live, work and manage together. I declare my interest as a small business person. It do not believe it is a crime. Deputy Healy-Rae, Deputy Michael Collins and myself employ people, generate income, pay our insurance premiums, taxes and everything else. I believe we are an asset to the economy. I have been in business since 1982. No one has a monopoly on this issue. As I said, the gun, shooting and fishing clubs do tremendous work to nurture our wildlife, as well as the vast majority of farmers. I condemn anyone who sets a hill alight in March, April or whenever, especially when the weather is very dry, and this year has been exceptionally dry, because of the threat of the fire spreading and the danger that poses to the fire services. I pay tribute to the fire personnel and the mountain rescue people for the work they are doing. The environment must be protected but the safety of lives must be paramount with respect to wildlife. It is important to achieve a balance in that regard but we must be able to cut back the hedges for safety and allow tourists to visit the areas in their hired car. If they hire a car in Dublin they are required to pay a deposit and if there is a scratch on the car when they return it, they will lose their deposit. That is why the roads are closed. Tá siad dúnta. We must be mindful of that in making our areas welcoming and achieving a balance in protecting the flora, fauna and wildlife. We must look at the bigger picture. Set aside was prevalent for decades and it did untold damage.
I stand by the comments I made in the debate. The Minister decided not to reply to them. She did not have to but I believe I am right that the people who are concerned about the birds and the bees care little for human beings.