Minister hits out at Mattie McGrath’s ‘anti-science world view’ as TD claims EPA issues ‘fake news’

Malcolm Noonan calls on Independent Tipperary TD to withdraw ‘absolutely disgraceful’ comments about Environmental Protection Agency

Minister of State Malcolm Noonan: he called on Mattie MrGrath to withdraw his remarks. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/ Collins Photos

A Minister has accused Independent TD Mattie McGrath of having an “anti-science world view”. Minister of State Malcolm Noonan also called on the Tipperary TD to withdraw comments he made about the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which the Minister described as an “absolute disgrace”.

Mr Noonan made his remarks after Mr McGrath described the EPA as “a disgraceful, discredited organisation”. He said it “comes out with fake news all the time” as he referred to the publication on Wednesday of the agency’s annual report on water quality.

The report found no overall improvement in the water quality of Ireland’s rivers, lakes, estuaries or groundwaters, and revealed that the biggest issue affecting water quality remains nutrient pollution from both agriculture and urban waste water.

Water bodies in bad condition included stretches of the river Laune in Kerry; parts of the Annagh river in Clare; the Ahavarraga stream in Limerick; and the Nenagh river in Tipperary.


However, Mr McGrath claimed the EPA was a “disgraceful, discredited organisation because they will not check municipal plants” as a cause of water pollution.

He claimed Mr Noonan “knows this better than I do. I have put it to him before. The EPA is discredited, comes out with fake news all the time, and they’re demonising farmers and blaming farmers for being the baddies. Of course, farmers are mentioned in this morning’s report as well, included with the municipal plants, but they had to say that. The facts speak for themselves. The records are there.”

But the Minister hit out at Mr McGrath, and said his “anti-science world view really is not welcome in this chamber”.

The Green Party Minister called on Mr MrGrath to withdraw his remarks, and said his anti-science view is one “we’re seeing emerge right across Europe in the European election, and we’re seeing it here in Ireland as well. It really is most unwelcome that he made such a comment here in the Dáil Chamber.”

The Minister and TD were speaking during a private member’s motion from the Regional group of Independents on the Nature Restoration Law. It is an European Commission proposal to restore the ecosystems of at least 20 per cent of the EU’s land and sea areas by 2030 and all ecosystems by 2050 through the revival of forests, wetlands and other areas damaged by human development.

Independent TD Denis Naughten, who introduced the debate, said the law was essential in the fight against biodiversity loss and climate change. He said the law includes provisions for flexibility and support for farmers who rewet their lands and contribute to climate mitigation.

But he warned the law’s implementation “could significantly impact on our farmers who play a crucial role in maintaining our rural landscapes and the economies of many of our towns and villages”.

“To address these concerns we propose the development of a national restoration plan that balances climate action with the protection of farmers’ livelihoods” and “would ensure that any actions on farmland are voluntary and designed to allow agricultural activities to continue”.

The Government did not oppose the motion.

Marie O'Halloran

Marie O'Halloran

Marie O'Halloran is Parliamentary Correspondent of The Irish Times