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Ní Riada calls for cross party support to protect bees

3 March, 2017 - by Liadh Ní Riada MEP

Sinn Féin MEP has called for cross-party support for an amendment to the Heritage Bill that seeks to protect bees and, by extension, our rich ecological diversity. 

Liadh Ní Riada siad: 

"Bees are crucial to the survival of many both wild and cultivated plant-life in Ireland and around the world. Their unseen work as pollinators ensures plants can reproduce and in turn support animal life. Their worth to agriculture is immeasurable, and the humble bee is a key contributor to our rich environmental diversity in Ireland. 

"The Heritage Bill presently before the Seanad contains a provision, which, if enacted, would allow hedgerows to be cut back in August. Such a step would have a seriously detrimental impact on bees. I am calling for cross party support for a Sinn Féin amendment to remove Section 8 of the Bill. The amendment has been proposed by Senator Fintan Warfield and has support from the Greens and some independents. 

"Section 8 of the Bill would allow landowners or their agents to cut, grub or destroy vegetation in any hedge or ditch during August and also permits the burning of vegetation in March. Such activities would harm wildlife, including bees.

"Sinn Féin holds deep appreciation for the value of nature and for the cultural and educational importance of hedgerows. Hedgerows link archaeological, geological, social and natural heritage. They have utility in the present and also mark the past. They enrich our understanding of history, ecology, rural society and farming practices. They give character to an area giving aesthetic appeal and creating a sense of place. They also provide unique habitats for a wide range of flora and fauna and must be protected. In the North then Minister for Agriculture Michelle O’Neil MLA also undertook to protect the current period which is replicated in the North.

"There is a legitimate concern by many with regard to road safety, especially on smaller, rural roads. Section 70 of the Roads Act 1993 allows a local authority to intervene if a hedgerow becomes a hazard to traffic. Sinn Féin have proposed a further amendment that allows landowners and members of the public to apply to the local authority for an order under Section 70. I believe this would be a much better way of dealing with this issue.

"I am calling for cross party support on this issue, and encourage all those concerned with protecting Irish agriculture and biodiversity to contact their local representatives and ask them to support this amendment."

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