Tánaiste indicates Environment may be restored to Departmental title

The Tánaiste, Frances Fitzgerald TD, has indicated the Government is reviewing the name of Denis Naughten’s new Department in response to campaigners opposing the proposed abolition of the Department of Environment. Over 12,000 people have signed a petition to Enda Kenny to reverse his decision, made when he announced the new ministerial line-up on May 6th. High profile signatories include chef Darina Allen, naturalist Eanna Ní Lamhna, filmmaker Pat Murphy and broadcaster Duncan Stewart. It would leave Ireland as the only EU country without a Minister for the Environment.

Eanna Ní Lamhna commented:

“Having no named Department of the Environment sends out a very strong message that the natural environment is not considered to be of any consequence by the Irish Government. This is outrageous.There should be a strong and well funded Department dealing with all natural environment issues – natural heritage, wildlife, water, air, waste, forestry, soil and climate change.”

Over 700 people have written to their local TD asking the Department of Environment to be restored with responsibility for all environmental functions which are now spread across three Departments. Writing in response to a constituent, the Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald TD, stated:

“The new Government has decided to move environmental related policy (including energy, environmental protection and standards, and natural resources) into a single Department to ensure a joined up approach to environmental policy. This will give environment policy the full attention and resources of a single Department. The final name of the Department will be confirmed by Government at a future date.”

Oisín Coghlan, Director of Friends of the Earth, commented

“It is encouraging that the Government is reviewing the name of Minister Naughten’s Department. It would be absurd if Ireland had no Minister for the Environment. But to deliver the promised ‘joined up approach’ Minister Naughten also has to be given responsibility for the natural environment and water quality, not just air quality, waste and climate change.

“Friends of the Earth has written to the Taoiseach proposing a straight swap between Denis Naughten and Heather Humphreys of the communications and heritage divisions. Denis Naughten would then be Minister for the Environment, Climate Change and Natural Heritage.”

The five organizations behind the petition: VOICE, BirdWatch, An Taisce, the Irish Wildlife Trust and Friends of the Earth are planning a creative delivery of the petition in advance of World Environment Day on June 5th.