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Demonstration against the Heritage Bill

Demonstration against the Heritage Bill outside Leinster House on 25th April 2018 (Photo: Oonagh Duggan - BirdWatch Ireland)

Demonstration against the Heritage Bill outside Leinster House on 25th April 2018
(Photo: Oonagh Duggan - BirdWatch Ireland)
[To download a high resolution version of this image for press use, please click here.]

On April 25th 2018 members and supporters of a coalition of environmental organisations gathered outside Leinster House to protest for the second time against the Government's continuing efforts to roll back the laws protecting breeding birds and other wildlife. The Heritage Bill was back before the Oireachtas Committee of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, where Minister Josepha Madigan defended Sections 7 and 8 which will allow burning in Ireland’s mountains and hills in March and will loosen the regulatory oversight on roadside hedgecutting, paticularly during August.

BirdWatch Ireland, the Federation of Irish Beekeepers' Associations, the Irish Wildlife Trust, An Taisce and the Hedgelaying Association of Ireland were out in force to show our opposition to these retrograde steps which will imperil the breeding birds, bees and other wild creatures which depend on our upland and hedgerow habitats. Section 7.1 of the Bill would allow burning in March. Sections 7.2 and 8 would remove the current regulatory oversight for the protection of breeding birds in relation to road side hedge-cutting.

The coalition of NGOs called on Minister Madigan to enter into dialogue on this issue. Instead of rolling back the laws that protect nature, NGOs are calling on her to set out an ambitious vision for imperilled nature in Ireland, starting with conservation of our hedgerows and uplands and the wildlife they hold.

The Heritage Bill has drawn the ire of thousands or Irish people who want to see habitats and wildlife protected in Ireland. Over 31,000 people signed a petition saying 'No' to the bill. The public consultation responses to the Minister's 2015 review of Section 40 of the Wildlife Act showed that most people were against any change to the dates set out in Section 40 for burning and cutting and many called for greater protection for wildlife but these concerns have been ignored.

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