Thursday, 21 May 2020
Covid-19 (Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht): Statements
Josepha Madigan (Dublin Rathdown, Fine Gael)
The Deputy is right in that we do always aim but we also do. You have to aim in order to do. It is important to say that.
My track record on heritage for which I increased the budget by 15% last year demonstrates my commitment to this area.
The Deputy has gone through a number of different issues. There were six fires in County Wicklow. I acknowledge that she welcomes that drones will now be used. It is important to note that if the National Parks and Wildlife Service had not been on duty, there would have been multiples of that number of fires in Wicklow alone. Last weekend, the Department, with other partners, covered all threatened areas with the drones and we will continue to do that. We work continuously to enhance, as the Deputy mentioned, the resources available to the National Parks and Wildlife Service.
Regarding the buzzards, members of the public locally were aware of the poisoning with carbofuran, which is extremely toxic and dangerous to human beings and has been a banned substance since, I believe, June 2009. However, people buy it illegally. There were therefore two crimes, namely, the purchase of the substance and the deliberate poisoning in such a malicious act. NGOs were involved and eventually the matter became public knowledge. However, because wildlife crime, in particular poisoning, is notoriously difficult to prosecute, the Garda had specifically asked us not to raise the matter publicly because they did not want to jeopardise the chances of success. That is why, even though the incident occurred in January, it only came to light recently. We are still in that process. We have had a lot of success, as I mentioned, in trying to tackle these types of crimes. Wildfires are also a type of crime, and we have had prosecutions in that regard. I appreciate that the Deputy is from Wicklow and is particularly conscious of this issue. In Wicklow 418 ha were burned. Preliminary investigations indicate this was done for agricultural purposes. The National Parks and Wildlife Service and my Department have supplied cross-compliance to the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine.