Dáil debates

Tuesday, 20 September 2022

Ceisteanna ar Sonraíodh Uain Dóibh - Priority Questions

EU Regulations

8:40 pm

Photo of Michael FitzmauriceMichael Fitzmaurice (Roscommon-Galway, Independent)
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58. To ask the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if he will oppose the proposed European Union regulation on land and peat restoration with reference to the biodiversity strategy and climate strategy as part of the European Union Council of Ministers, given that the consequences for Irish farming will be detrimental if this regulation is left in its present form (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45814/22]

Photo of Michael FitzmauriceMichael Fitzmaurice (Roscommon-Galway, Independent)
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This question concerns COM (2022) 304, to ask the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications if he will oppose the proposed European Union regulation on land and peat restoration with reference to the biodiversity strategy and climate strategy as part of the European Union Council of Ministers, given that the consequences for Irish farming will be detrimental if this regulation is left in its present form.

Photo of Eamon RyanEamon Ryan (Dublin Bay South, Green Party)
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The EU nature restoration law, as proposed, seeks to repair European habitats that are in poor condition and bring back nature to all ecosystems. The aim is for nature restoration measures to apply to a proportion of the EU's land and sea areas by 2030 and to eventually extend these measures to all ecosystems in need of restoration by 2050. In addition, there are proposals from the EU Commission to reduce the use and risk of chemical pesticides and a new soil health law to significantly improve the state of soils and protect soils on the same legal basis as air and water. In combination, it is envisaged that these flagship legislative proposal will help ensure the sustainability, resilience and security of food supply in the EU.

While the proposed EU nature restoration law is being negotiated there are measures, such as a voluntary eco-scheme, set out in the CAP strategic plan. It is anticipated that it will be a key action in the delivery objectives of the nature restoration law. The proposed EU nature restoration law will have implications for all land users in Ireland. These will be taken into consideration as part of the second phase of the land use review, due for completion in 18 months' time.

The national implementation of the proposed EU nature restoration law will require a whole-of-government approach, and we will continue to work closely with our colleagues in the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage who are leading on this issue.

To answer, if I can, the question as to whether I will oppose the proposed Union regulation, I met the Commissioner, Mr. Sinkevičius, when I visited Brussels the week before last and we discussed this very issue. I am supportive of what he and the Commission are looking to do. I believe it will be to the benefit of nature restoration in Ireland but also to the development of rural Ireland and to our cities.

Part of the plan and the proposals is that we green our cities as well as our country areas. This law and the measures that would help deliver that have a real, long-term benefit for our people. As a result, I said to Commissioner Sinkevičius that I would be supportive of his work.

8:50 pm

Photo of Michael FitzmauriceMichael Fitzmaurice (Roscommon-Galway, Independent)
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If the Minister supports the regulation in its present form, he will be a traitor to the people in rural Ireland. That is the fact. What has been proposed would make Cromwell blush when compared with what he tried to do to Ireland. The Minister used the word "voluntary". This is bringing into law a regulation that will affect people with land containing peaty soils. The Minister should go down to Kerry, where most of the cows for the dairy sector are reared, to the west, to the north west and out to the midlands, where land has been reclaimed for years and where families make a living. Whoever will be in government can listen to these words very carefully. Whether the Government signs off on this, whether it supports it with the EU or whether it wants to be a lackey for the EU, we in rural Ireland will stand against this and fight it. No EU diktat and no Government Minister in Dublin will decide our private property rights, decide how we will farm our land or take us off land that we have drained, looked after and reared families on down through the years.

Photo of Eamon RyanEamon Ryan (Dublin Bay South, Green Party)
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I was down in Kerry last week, as it happens.

Photo of Michael FitzmauriceMichael Fitzmaurice (Roscommon-Galway, Independent)
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The Minister could have a look at Listowel. Where are the cows reared around Listowel?

Photo of Eamon RyanEamon Ryan (Dublin Bay South, Green Party)
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I was in west Clare the previous weekend.

Photo of Michael FitzmauriceMichael Fitzmaurice (Roscommon-Galway, Independent)
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Yes, and where are the cows?

Photo of Eamon RyanEamon Ryan (Dublin Bay South, Green Party)
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I will be heading back out west again this weekend. One thing I believe to be absolutely true is that it is in all our interests to stop the destruction of the natural world which has occurred over the past 50 or 60 years - within our lifetimes.

Photo of Michael FitzmauriceMichael Fitzmaurice (Roscommon-Galway, Independent)
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I am talking about land that is reclaimed, that cattle are on.

Photo of Eamon RyanEamon Ryan (Dublin Bay South, Green Party)
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We are not disconnected from the natural systems. If we lose them, we will not be able to restore them easily. We need to protect our water, our soil, our air quality and our land and the ecosystems within them. That is good in the long run for farming, forestry, tourism and so many other industries that bring wealth and prosperity to our country. We will work collaboratively and collectively on that. Obviously, it will not work if it is someone telling someone else what to do and how.

Photo of Michael FitzmauriceMichael Fitzmaurice (Roscommon-Galway, Independent)
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And what does the regulation do?

Photo of Eamon RyanEamon Ryan (Dublin Bay South, Green Party)
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However, ignoring the biodiversity crisis and ignoring the destruction and loss of the natural world that has occurred in the past 50 years serves no one's interests. We have to look forward, restore nature and ensure that we maintain our prosperity in that manner.

Photo of Michael FitzmauriceMichael Fitzmaurice (Roscommon-Galway, Independent)
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The Minister talked about forestry. It is a good job there might be someone in the EU who will stand up for their citizens. Sweden and Finland are to oppose the regulation, just so the Minister knows. He talks about the past 50 years. Over the past 50 years the EU has given grants to these farmers to shore their land and to make a living on marginal farms. Is the Minister the person who is going to support an EU diktat from unelected representatives trying to bring in a regulation? He talked about working with people. A regulation does not work with people. A regulation seeks to bring something into law. This regulation will not be accepted, just so the Minister knows. He is hearing it loud and clear here. From the top of Donegal to the bottom of Kerry and out as far as Cork and the midlands, he will destroy family farms if, by 2050, the plan is that the Government will rewet the ground that these farmers have spent years trying to farm all their life. The regulation will not be accepted, whoever is in government. I am telling the Minister that clearly.

Photo of Eamon RyanEamon Ryan (Dublin Bay South, Green Party)
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It will be accepted if we provide an income-----

Photo of Michael FitzmauriceMichael Fitzmaurice (Roscommon-Galway, Independent)
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It will not be accepted.

Photo of Marc Ó CathasaighMarc Ó Cathasaigh (Waterford, Green Party)
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We will hear the Minister's answer.

Photo of Eamon RyanEamon Ryan (Dublin Bay South, Green Party)
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If I may make my point, it will be accepted if we can, in restoring nature, provide an income-----

Photo of Michael FitzmauriceMichael Fitzmaurice (Roscommon-Galway, Independent)
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Do not talk bullshit.

Photo of Marc Ó CathasaighMarc Ó Cathasaigh (Waterford, Green Party)
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Deputy, please.

Photo of Eamon RyanEamon Ryan (Dublin Bay South, Green Party)
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-----to a new generation of farmers, foresters and people to look after the natural world. That will be a far more secure, a far more profitable and a far more prosperous future.

Photo of Michael FitzmauriceMichael Fitzmaurice (Roscommon-Galway, Independent)
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Stop, will you? For Jesus's sake, will you just leave it?

Photo of Eamon RyanEamon Ryan (Dublin Bay South, Green Party)
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That is absolutely achievable. It will not work-----

Photo of Michael FitzmauriceMichael Fitzmaurice (Roscommon-Galway, Independent)
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So you are going to tell families, "Forget about farming. Leave the area."

Photo of Marc Ó CathasaighMarc Ó Cathasaigh (Waterford, Green Party)
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Deputy-----

Photo of Michael FitzmauriceMichael Fitzmaurice (Roscommon-Galway, Independent)
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Do you want to have it so that Leinster and Munster will have the farming and the rest will not?

Photo of Marc Ó CathasaighMarc Ó Cathasaigh (Waterford, Green Party)
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I ask you to hear the Minister's response, Deputy Fitzmaurice.

Photo of Michael FitzmauriceMichael Fitzmaurice (Roscommon-Galway, Independent)
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I am sick of listening to him.

Photo of Eamon RyanEamon Ryan (Dublin Bay South, Green Party)
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I have just as much an interest in the prosperity and the future of the Irish family farm-----

Photo of Michael FitzmauriceMichael Fitzmaurice (Roscommon-Galway, Independent)
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You want to rewet all their land.

Photo of Marc Ó CathasaighMarc Ó Cathasaigh (Waterford, Green Party)
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Thank you, Deputy Fitzmaurice.

Photo of Eamon RyanEamon Ryan (Dublin Bay South, Green Party)
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That is absolutely connected to protection and management of that land.

Photo of Michael FitzmauriceMichael Fitzmaurice (Roscommon-Galway, Independent)
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The sooner we have an election and have the likes of you gone, the better.

Photo of Eamon RyanEamon Ryan (Dublin Bay South, Green Party)
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We will need people, young and old, who see that the care of their environment and of their local area is central to what they do. That aspiration and that instinct belongs to everyone. It does not belong to any single party one way or the other, but we will not-----

Photo of Michael FitzmauriceMichael Fitzmaurice (Roscommon-Galway, Independent)
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We are a sovereign people who have property rights and we will protect them. We have done it before and we will do it again.

Photo of Marc Ó CathasaighMarc Ó Cathasaigh (Waterford, Green Party)
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Deputy Fitzmaurice, please.

Photo of Eamon RyanEamon Ryan (Dublin Bay South, Green Party)
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We have to work now to find a mechanism whereby we can do this in a way-----

Photo of Michael FitzmauriceMichael Fitzmaurice (Roscommon-Galway, Independent)
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There will be no mechanism of flooding people's land.

Photo of Eamon RyanEamon Ryan (Dublin Bay South, Green Party)
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-----that guarantees the future of the family farm, and that is what we will work towards with the European Union.

Photo of Michael FitzmauriceMichael Fitzmaurice (Roscommon-Galway, Independent)
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The European Union is no friend of ours.