Protect Ireland’s Nature

Protect Ireland’s Nature

Green Party TD Marc Ó Cathasaigh Calls for Urgent Action to Protect Ireland’s Nature Following European Court of Justice Ruling

Green Party TD for Waterford, Marc Ó Cathasaigh has called for urgent action to protect Ireland’s nature following a European Court of Justice ruling. His call follows the verdict which was passed on the position up to January 2019 and which stated that up to that date Ireland has violated EU nature laws by failing to safeguard hundreds of sites. This long-standing case, initiated by the European Commission to address the implementation of the EU Habitats Directive, highlights the shortcomings of successive Irish governments in designating Special Areas of Conservation (SAC) and establishing site-specific detailed conservation objectives.

Commenting on the ruling, Green Party TD for Waterford, Marc Ó Cathasaigh said: “The European Court of Justice’s ruling is a clear indication that successive Irish governments have not fulfilled their obligations to protect these vital sites of conservation. Since the Green Party entered government in 2020, we have made huge strides in protecting nature in Ireland but as a nation, we need to maintain this focus with the support of politicians from all parties and none. We have seen disinformation, misinformation and division in debates around the Nature Restoration Law both in Brussels and at home here in Ireland and that has to stop. Everyone must take this as a wake-up call and prioritize the preservation of our natural habitats and wildlife. There is no come-back from extinction and we cannot afford to delay any further in our efforts to safeguard Ireland’s biodiversity.”

The court’s ruling determined that, in January 2019, out of the 423 identified sites across the country, the Irish government neglected to designate SACs for 217 locations. Furthermore, at 140 sites, the government failed to set site-specific detailed conservation objectives as required by the Habitats Directive. While the court awarded costs against the Irish government, the issue of fines has yet to be determined.

Deputy Ó Cathasaigh continued: 

“While the Court’s findings pertain to the status as of January 2019, current politicians still need to sit up and take note. As a result of negotiations I was involved in for forming the current government, this government has made substantial strides in advancing our conservation efforts through the transformation of the National Parks and Wildlife Service and the establishment of a dedicated Directorate tasked with implementing conservation measures across all of Ireland’s Natura 2000 sites. But it is not enough and everyone now needs to get their shoulder behind the wheel on this.”

The Habitats Directive aims to safeguard over a thousand species of animals and fauna, along with 230 characteristic habitat types, ensuring their favourable conservation status within the European Union. 

Green Party TD Marc Ó Cathasaigh concluded, “We cannot underestimate the significance of this judgement. It is crucial that Ireland redoubles its efforts to protect and restore our natural habitats and ensure the survival of our unique wildlife. We must work collectively to create a sustainable future where nature thrives for generations to come.”