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Order of Business (Continued)

Tuesday, 3 July 2018

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 971 No. 1

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Deputy Michael Collins: Information on Michael Collins Zoom on Michael Collins On page 119 of the programme for Government, under the heading "Seafood and the Marine", the Government states it is committed to the development of the inshore fisheries sector. Hundreds of people attended a peaceful protest in Bantry last Sunday to do all they can to stop mechanical harvesting of 1,860 acres of kelp off the stunning Bantry Bay. BioAtlantis wrote to the Department last week stating it is to commence mechanical harvesting tomorrow, Wednesday, 4 July. Does the Tánaiste realise this will be devastating for the environment, the local tourism industry and the livelihoods of up to 50 inshore fishermen, none of whom received notification in the past week that mechanical harvesting of 1,860 acres was due to take place in their waters? In Article 12.2 of the licence granted in 2009, the Minister - in this case, the Minister of State, Deputy Damien English - can revoke this licence without cost to the State. Will the Tánaiste work with the Minister of State to have this licence revoked before irreparable damage is done to the waters off Bantry Bay?

The Tánaiste: Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney A licence has been granted for this activity and a number of Ministers were involved in that decision. I believe the former Minister, Mr. John Gormley, was the first Minister involved. The proposal went through a very rigorous assessment. In terms of the environmental impact, the Marine Institute and other bodies have been involved and there has also been public consultation. A delicate balance needs to be struck to ensure we protect the marine ecosystem and marine environment, while at the same time allowing a reasonable but relatively small part of Bantry Bay to be used for seaweed harvesting. The position will be reviewed after the licence takes effect to make sure environmental concerns remain to the fore. It is highly unlikely the licence will be revoked before it takes effect.

Deputy Michael Collins: Information on Michael Collins Zoom on Michael Collins This licence was granted in 2009.

Deputy Catherine Martin: Information on Catherine Martin Zoom on Catherine Martin The Petroleum and Other Minerals Development (Amendment) (Climate Emergency Measures) Bill 2018 is about to come before the select committee for detailed scrutiny. I seek clarity on the Government's position on ending oil and gas exploration. Last Friday, the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment tweeted the following: "The number and capability of exploration companies involved is a welcome development and hopefully we will see an increase in drilling and the realisation of our oil and gas potential in the coming years." It is hard to believe but that tweet came directly from the Department with responsibility for climate action. It was deleted on Saturday. Will the Tánaiste indicate whether it was deleted because it is no longer the Government's policy to increase fossil fuel exploration or because the Department was embarrassed that it made clear, in black and white and for all to see, not only that this Government is not taking climate action seriously, but also, at a time when we all know we need to keep 80% of known fossil fuels in the ground, it seems to be hoping, wishing and dreaming of a deadly fossil fuel future?

The Tánaiste: Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney It is probably a bit dangerous for me to comment on individual tweets from individual Ministers but I am sure the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment, Deputy Naughten, will have an opportunity-----

Deputy Catherine Martin: Information on Catherine Martin Zoom on Catherine Martin The Minister of State, Deputy Kyne, is the relevant Minister.

The Tánaiste: Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney If a Private Members' Bill on climate action comes forward, I am sure the Minister of State and Minister will have an opportunity to outline, in some detail, the Government's ambition in this area because it is significant.

Deputy Eugene Murphy: Information on Eugene Murphy Zoom on Eugene Murphy I raise a recent official announcement that affects my constituency. Last Friday, the Health Service Executive, HSE, announced at a meeting with Oireachtas Members that the Rosalie residential centre for mildly mentally handicapped persons in Castlerea is to close within the next four weeks. We were also told before the end of the meeting that St. Joseph's day care centre in Ballaghaderreen, which 18 people attend, was to close. I recognise the role played by the Minister of State, Deputy Jim Daly, who has acknowledged the representations made to him on this matter by people he met while visiting the centre. This is a scandalous announcement. The Government is neglecting vulnerable people in a scandalous way in several areas of mental health.


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