Government must support Sinn Féin Climate Change Bill
As party spokesperson on environment, community and local government it’s been a very busy and productive year.
The Fine Gael/Labour party government is set on dismantling local government, imposing domestic water charges, has failed to deal with climate change, covered up a report on Sellafield and imposed an unjust tax on the family home.
Climate Change Bill
One of the biggest challenges facing our society is climate change. It’s effects can be seen globally and felt locally.
Despite Programme for Government commitments, we are still waiting for a climate change bill after two years.
We produced a Bill with the essential ingredients to deal with climate change and the introduction of five year targets.
When we introduce it, there is no reason why the Government cannot support this bill.
It will see the establishment of an independent Climate Change Commission to advise An Taoiseach on targets.
I would urge delegates to support Motion 57.
Our water infrastructure is crumbling and before you turn on your tap 40% has already gone in leakages.
Capital investment in water was cut from €435 million in 2011 to €331 million in 2012. That’s a cut of €100 million or almost 25%
Clearly it’s not the householder, but the water distribution network which is the problem.
Instead of investing in upgrading the mains supply network the Government intend wasting up to €500 million from the National Pension Reserve Fund on installing meters at every house.
I want to applaud our colleagues in the Assembly. When Conor Murphy was Minister they ensured that no domestic water charges were introduced and that remains the position today.
Sinn Féin will campaign to keep Ireland north and south a water charge free zone.
The bogs of Ireland remain a huge natural resource for our people.
But consecutive governments have failed turf cutters and their communities.
Sinn Féin continues to support the rights of turf cutters and is committed to getting a good outcome for both them and the environment.
Sinn Féin has had discussions with the Turf Cutters & Contractors Association, Department Officials and the EU in an attempt to resolve issues surrounding the 53 bogs designated as Special Areas of Conservation. We believe there is a basis for a solution based on a comprehensive plan to deal with all 53 bogs and SF will work to achieve this.
Wind energy is part of the solution to our renewable energy needs. But it must be done in a sustainable way and serve the needs of society. Local energy needs must be met first and there must also be an element of local ownership.
Planning Regulations for all projects are urgently required.
The absence of regulations, even of the ‘light touch’ variety, is causing confusion and suspicion for communities. The current guidelines are useless and were introduced when wind turbines were much smaller. There must be a minimum distance between homes and the planned giant wind turbines and this needs to increase in line with their height.
I welcome Motion 59 as a starting point for the Party’s development of robust policy on this issue.
But we must move swiftly. Concrete has already been priced to anchor the bases of the giant turbines.
In the meantime there must be a moratorium on the construction of wind farms until proper Regulations are in place in the 26 Counties.
FG and Labour promised open government. Well Enda & Eamonn, it seems like a long time ago since you uttered those words. And you have slipped back into the bad practise of cover up and spin so well perfected by Fianna Fáil.
The government are running scared from debating a secret report on the threat posed by Sellafield.
I have twice requested that the Dáil debates this report but was denied on both occasions.
The report was commissioned as part of an agreement between the British and Irish governments. Part of this 2007 Agreement was that the Irish government withdraw their case against Sellafield, which they duly did.
The report cost €4.8 million to the Irish tax payer. We are told it concludes that incidents at the Sellafield site resulting in the release of radioactive material would result in ‘no observable health effects in Ireland’.
This totally flies in the face of an earlier damning report from the UK’s National Audit Office (NAO).
In conclusion I would urge delegates to support motion 58 calling for the report to be published immediately. This cover up must not be allowed to continue.
I am urging delegates to support Motions 57, 58, 59 and 61.