Tuesday, 11 June 2019
Ceisteanna ó Cheannairí - Leaders' Questions
Micheál Martin (Leader of the Opposition; Cork South Central, Fianna Fail)
That threat was there all the time, but we went ahead. The bottom line is that, for any Government, public health is number one. Where the evidence is demonstrable in terms of the improvement in air quality and in improving people's lives where respiratory diseases and cancer, in particular lung cancer, are concerned, there is no argument. This Government should have taken them on without any hesitation.
We are down to the last 20%. It is shocking when one reads the accounts of people's daily lives in the towns where the ban on smoky coals does not apply. The comparisons between those areas of the country and those areas where the ban has been in place for a long time are significant. Health is being damaged as a result, but the Taoiseach is saying that he must give it due consideration. In 2013, the then Minister, Phil Hogan, stated that he wanted to see a ban on smoky coal throughout the country within the next three years. This was formalised by a later Minister, Deputy Kelly, at an air policy conference in 2015 where he stated that the ban would come into effect in 2016.