Seanad debates

Friday, 5 March 2021

Local Government (Use of CCTV in Prosecution of Offences) Bill 2021: Second Stage


10:30 am

Photo of Pauline O'ReillyPauline O'Reilly (Green Party) | Oireachtas source

I thank the Labour Party for bringing this Bill forward. Senator Boylan brings numerous proposals here which she would like to see happen. The alternative budget for 2021 which Sinn Féin produced did not even mention the word "climate" in it and only mentioned the word "biodiversity" in reference to the title of our Minister of State, Senator Hackett. I want to make that point first because things cost money.

At the heart of this Bill, of Senator Byrne's Bill and of the Minister, Deputy Eamon Ryan's heads of Bill, is a significant will on behalf of everybody to address this issue. We know it is costing money and Senator Wall outlined how much it is costing in his constituency. That is happening around the country and it was pretty much the number one issue for us when we were on local authorities. When I was a councillor on Galway City Council, I was doing a litter pick in Knocknacarra and we found a river of waste in the middle of a developed area beside two schools. We were there with children, we walked up to the top of a verge, looked over and there was a field covered in waste. There was no CCTV there, it was dark at night and people were clearly driving up there to dump. I got it cleaned up very quickly but it should not have to be down to local people to do a litter pick and come across this waste. We have to have CCTV in order to address this.

I know there are some issues around the Bill but as we say all the time, that is what Committee Stage is for, and that is true. I would like to draw everybody's attention to the fact that it was a key commitment in the programme for Government that we would address waste. It is an environmental issue and for that reason, the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications, Deputy Eamon Ryan, is bringing forward a waste management (circular economy) Bill that will have this in it. That Bill will also do a number of other things because this is the end of the road when it comes to waste. However, going back up the track, we need to see bottle return schemes. A number of us have tried to get minuscule amounts of money from the budgets of our local authorities when we were trying to get these schemes up and running.

We should also try to put in place schemes for facilities such as water fountains so that people do not produce this waste in the first place. My particular passion is the fast fashion industry. Not only are there issues with the labour conditions of the workers in that industry but also enough clothing has been produced to last for decades.We do not need to keep producing more and more. We need to start reusing. I have run a few repair cafés through a group I set up called Zero Waste Galway, where we bring in people with sewing machines who have the sewing skills that I do not. We are losing the skills our grandparents had to repair what we already have. Other people come in from the community and sign up to learn a new skill, while also bringing away a piece of clothing that they had not managed to fix themselves. I would like to see more money going into those kinds of projects, which would help local communities to become engaged in the issue.

Even though I have criticised Sinn Féin for its record on climate and biodiversity, the point is well made that the impact on nature is at the heart of this. It is very difficult for people to live in those environments, as Senator Wall has said. People are driving in and dumping fridges and all kinds of things or even throwing waste food outside people's houses, but it also impacts on the animals and wildlife in those areas. This situation does not allow us to achieve what we need to achieve to retain our natural environment and make sure the animals that are in our care, on either public or private land, are well cared for.

I thank Senator Wall for bringing this Bill forward and I also thank Senator Byrne for the work he has done on this matter. They should look out for the circular economy Bill because there will be much in it that will address many of these issues from start to finish.


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