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Hive of activity outside Dáil as beekeepers protest against new laws

It is feared the new laws will have disastrous consequences for Ireland’s wildlife.

NO FEE 7 Beekeepers Ireland protest One bee waits to join the crowd at the protest yesterday outside Leinster House. Source: Mark Stedman

A GROUP OF concerned beekeepers yesterday protested outside the Dáil to raise their concerns over new laws which could be catastrophic for Ireland’s wildlife.

Up to 30 members of Beekeepers Ireland wearing protective suits and veils travelled to Dublin to protest outside Leinster House against the Heritage Bill which is being debated in the Seanad.

The Bill proposes to permit the cutting of hedgerows from 1 August which the beekeepers say would have severe negative impacts on Ireland’s wildlife .

NO FEE 4 Beekeepers Ireland protest Source: Mark Stedman

Introduced by Heritage Minister Heather Humphreys last year, the bill would allow the cutting, burning and removal of hedgerows in August each year and the burning of uplands during the month of March.

Existing laws ban hedge-cutting and burning between March and August specifically to protect birdlife, bees, wild pollinators and other wildlife.

A spokesman for the Beekeepers Association of Ireland said: “Honeybees and other pollinators are entirely reliant on flowers for their food which is pollen and nectar. In many parts of Ireland hedgerows are the only source of flowering plants and habitat.

NO FEE 8 Beekeepers Ireland protest Source: Mark Stedman

“To cut, grub or burn flowering vegetation at any time of the year is to deprive pollinating insects of food. Cutting hedges or verges annually in August would destroy a food source vital to bees as they gather pollen and nectar to store to keep themselves alive over winter. Grubbing and burning flowering vegetation in March would destroy a food source vital to bees as they emerge from winter.”

Ahead of a Seanad debate on the Heritage Bill 2016 today, IFA Environment Chairman Thomas Cooney has said the measures proposed in the Bill, to provide for an extension of hedge cutting and gorse burning dates on a pilot basis, are balanced and will facilitate better land management.

However, the Bill has been backed by the Irish Farmers’ Association which said the hedge-cutting changes will be a winner for everyone.

Spokesman Thomas Cooney said: “The measures in the Heritage Bill provide for a pragmatic approach to addressing issues such as overgrown hedges impacting on roads and vegetation management, while ensuring the protection of biodiversity.”

Read: Counting under way in the North – as possible return to direct rule looms >

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