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Mary Lou McDonald accuses government of gross negligence on environment

30 November, 2005

Sinn Féin National Chairperson and MEP for Dublin Mary Lou McDonald has today slammed the Irish Government for "gross negligence" regarding continual breaches of European environmental legislation. Ms McDonald described the Government's response to environmental protection as "a litany failure".

Ms McDonald made her comments after she had written to the European Commissioner for the Environment, Stavros Dimas to ascertain 'how many cases have been taken against the Irish Government for breaches of environmental legislation over the last ten years?' In response, the European Commission stated that the European Court of Justice had delivered eleven judgements against Ireland in the past 10 years.

Speaking from Brussels Ms McDonald said:

"This is a scathing indictment of successive Irish Governments and their refusal to fully implement European legislation in regards to environmental legislation. In response to a question I put to them, the European Commission responded with a list of Ireland's failures covering areas such as the widespread pollution of drinking water, habitat damage, failure to submit reports on substances that damage the ozone layer and the failure to nominate areas of natural conservation importance.

"In all identified instances, costs were awarded against the state. All of this adds up to one big failure by successive Irish Governments. Whilst the Commission response indicates an improvement in recent years, it is clear that the state is falling down woefully in many areas, including waste management. It is unacceptable that the government is promoting incineration as the solution, when this can only compound environmental problems and it is clear that we are plummeting to the bottom of the list of EU counties regarding our environmental record.

"Real action is required from the Government if we are to meet European standards and excuses will no longer wash. We require an all-Ireland agency to deal with the issue with strong enforcement powers and a strong commitment to ensuring that the polluter is held responsible for their actions and meets treatment costs." ENDS

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