Irish environmental movement sees red over Constitutional Convention

Ian Carey News, Press Releases

6 February 2014: The Environmental Pillar is calling on the Constitutional Convention to allow an additional weekend to debate the issues raised by the public.The Constitutional Convention has chosen to ignore the hundreds of written submissions and presentations on the environment. Instead the Constitutional Convention has decided to support reform of the Dáil even though this proposal received only 5 written submissions out of a total number of 802 submissions.The recent devastating effect of floods testify to the consistent failure of politicians to provide for appropriate planning of development and to take serious consideration of the effects and climate change and to respond proactively. Constitutional Protection for the Environment and Environmental Rights are an essential legal tool in the battle for meaningful focus on these critical matters.

The Constitutional Convention was set up to examine the Constitution, and was given a list of subjects to address. At the end of the process, Irish citizens were asked to submit their own ideas for constitutional change, with the promise that two of these ideas would be debated at the Constitutional Convention meeting in March.

The two subjects which had the most submissions were:
(1) Protection of the Environment (184 individual submissions), and
(2) Economic Social and Cultural Reform (180 submissions).

Furthermore, Protection of the Environment dominated the discussions at the nine regional Constitutional Convention meetings. At least 150 people raised the environment at these meetings.

The Convention is made up of 100 people, 33 of which are politicians. They voted on the subjects to discuss, and chose (1) Dáil Reform and (2) Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

“Lobby groups are not allowed on the Convention, but in this case, politicians effectively became a lobby group, and voted to change their workplace, while ignoring the views of the public,” said Donna Mullen from the Environmental Pillar. “We are calling on the Convention to allow an additional weekend to discuss the insertion of Environmental Protection into the Constitution.”

Submissions on the environment included those from doctors (linking our health to a quality environment), farmers and those in the agrifoods industry (importance of promoting our green produce), grandparents (who wanted to protect nature for future generations), the tourism industry, the equine industry, poets, ecologists (who spoke of the intrinsic rights of nature), lawyers and many others.

“Our environment is our national treasure – our crock of gold. Every citizen, present and future, has a right to a healthy, truly sustainable environment and to enjoy a sustainable interest in it and its resources. These are rights and interests protected as fundamental rights in the constitution of many other countries, and so are protected beyond the interference of politicians and vested interests.  Doesn’t that merit a weekend’s discussion by the Constitutional convention?” said Ms Mullen.

 

Notes:

All 802 submissions can be viewed at https://www.constitution.ie/Submissions.aspx
In the regional meetings, protection of the environment dominated discussions – see this press release and this article Some people wanted other types of political reform – but not specifically Dáil Reform: https://www.constitution.ie/Submissions.aspx?cid=90
Ian CareyIrish environmental movement sees red over Constitutional Convention