Sinn Féin and EU nature restoration law

Political backsliding

Sir, – The passage of the nature restoration law by the European Parliament is most welcome, but I’d worry over both the hostile reaction from the influential agricultural sector and the apparent split within Sinn Féin on the issue, with the party’s sole MEP, Chris MacManus, voting against the law while Sinn Féin’s European election candidate Lynn Boylan welcomed the law (“European Parliament passes nature restoration law despite political backlash”, News, February 27th).

Many other so-calling binding EU laws have been passed that Irish governments have failed to implement.

Once certain lobby groups flex their muscles, the politicians run scared and concerns about the ravaging of nature take second place to electoral self-interest.

Could Sinn Féin in government be relied upon to push through the changes agreed by MEPs?


While the support of Irish MEPs for the measure does send out the right signal, everyone committed to the recovery of nature on this island must be on guard against political backsliding. We can’t afford to be complacent, given that the status of an estimated 85 per cent of EU protected habitats here are deemed to be “unfavourable”, and more than 56 per cent of plant species have been decimated since the 1950s.

The Irish hare is under threat from urbanisation and the negative impact of modern agriculture. It has lost large swathes of its habitat and, instead of taking drastic action to arrest its steady decline across the island, successive governments have licensed coursing clubs to capture thousands of the timid creatures for “sport”.

The Government has backtracked on its pledge to establish a wildlife crime unit that would effectively clamp down on destruction of protected species and habitats. The plan has been shelved, despite the urgent need for such a body.

If our ecosystems and our precious flora and fauna are to survive, let alone recover, we’ll need more than just the passing of another law, however progressive it might look on paper.

We’ll need our political climate to change! – Yours, etc,



Co Kilkenny.