Councillor in a flap over pine martens


THE IRISH Wildlife Trust says councillors objecting to the creation of special protection areas (SPAs) have demonstrated a “staggering ignorance” of the issues involved.

One councillor attempting to block new protection areas described the pine marten, a small, furred woodland mammal, as “the most nasty, vicious bird you have ever seen”.

Michael Newman (FG), who lost his seat in the recent elections, was among councillors who spoke against three SPAs at the last meeting of Westmeath County Council.

He described himself as outraged at the new designations of Glen Lough, Lough Kinale and Derragh Lough as SPAs, selected because they were deemed to have endangered species of fish and birds which must be protected in their environment under the EU birds directive.

Mr Newman had told the meeting he had a “bellyful” of these directives and with “interference” in the everyday life of good, honest country people when he joined with other councillors in criticising the designations sought by the National Wildlife Service.

“We are seeing species that have never been seen before in Ireland being introduced by these people. Look at the pine marten, the most nasty vicious bird that you have ever seen. They were never in Ireland but have been introduced.”

But in a statement at the weekend, the Irish Wildlife Trust welcomed the designations and accused the councillor of displaying a staggering ignorance of wildlife. “The pine marten is not, in fact, a bird, but a mammal, and a native Irish one at that,” said IWT chairman Pádraic Fogarty.