Decision to make Naughten Minister for the Environment welcome

Friends of the Earth has welcomed the announcement by Denis Naughten that his Department’s title will be changed to include the word Environment. He will now be Minister for Communications, Climate Action and the Environment. The decision comes after 13,000 people signed a petition protesting at the proposal to drop Environment from the title. That would have left Ireland as one of only two EU countries, along with Hungary, without a Minister for Environment.

Commenting, Friends of the Earth Director, Oisin Coghlan said

“This is a victory for common sense and for the thousands of campaigners who have called for the restoration of the Department of the Environment.

“It would have been absurd for Ireland to be one of only two European countries without a Minister for the Environment. But it’s still absurd that the Minister for the Environment won’t have responsibility for wildlife and water.”

Despite Minister Naughten’s new title the natural environment division (nature and wildlife) is staying with Heather Humphreys and the water and planning planning division staying with Simon Coveney.

Oisin Coghlan continued:

“This is still not the joined up approach to environmental policy promised by the Government. We will continue to press for the re-integration of all the functions that are traditionally associated with the environment into a single Department”

“This whole ridiculous episode also highlights how little thought goes into Government strategy on the environment at the highest level. It’s only eight months since the Taoiseach signed the UN’s ambitious Sustainable Development Goals for 2030. It’s time we had a proper national debate on how we achieve social, economic and environmental balance to achieve those goals.

“Perhaps after the next election that means we’ll have a Minister for Sustainable Development, or better still a Taoiseach for Sustainable Development.”