Taoiseach Enda Kenny has announced the new Junior Ministers but did not take the opportunity to address the problem of splitting up the functions of the Department of the Environment.
The Environmental Pillar, an advocacy coalition of 28 national environmental NGOs, is now calling on the government to bring the functions of the environmental protection back under one roof.
Also the failure to appoint a Junior Minister for Sustainable Development assigned to departments which contain transport, energy and housing shows a lack of joined up thinking.
“Today was a missed opportunity to reinstate the Department of the Environment,” said Oisín Coghlan spokesperson for the Environmental Pillar.
“But importantly it’s not too late for the government to fix this. We are calling on them to put bring together environmental protection under one roof so we can have a cohesive approach to Ireland’s environmental issues.”
In just two days, over 7,000 people have signed a petition to reinstate the Department of the Environment to develop a cohesive approach to environmental protection.
When the government split the Department of the Environment it separated environmental functions – spreading waste, water and wildlife over three departments.
This split has weakened the impact of environmental issues on the Government and gets in the way of a unified approach to protecting a healthy environment.
The Environmental Pillar are proposing that the current departments are realigned to bring Environment, Climate Change and Natural Heritage into one place.
In addition to this we are calling for the reintroduction of Community into the title of the Simon Coveney’s department and the moving of Communication to Heather Humphrey’s department where it would be a more natural fit.
The Environmental Pillar suggests the following:
* Department of Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government
* Department of Environment, Climate and Natural Heritage
* Department of Regional Development, Rural Affairs, Communications, Arts and the Gaeltacht
“The current re-alignment of Government Departments, taken together with the serious gaps in the Programme for Government, will ensure that the outcomes fall far short of aspirations made recently to sustainable development,” said Mr Coghlan.
“This flies in the face of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, which the Taoiseach signed up to just six months ago and which clearly state that environment, society, and economy are equal and interdependent.”