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FactCheck: How many times did the Dáil discuss the EU Nature Restoration Law?

Newly elected MEP Ciaran Mullooly claims the law was not properly scrutinised by TDs.

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EUROPE’S NATURE RESTORATION Law was finally passed by EU environment ministers this week, following a long-fought battle to protect ecosystems across the continent.

The legislation, one of the more controversial laws proposed at EU level in recent years, was the subject of intense debates across Europe, particularly among farmers and rural groups who felt it could negatively impact the agricultural sector.

Newly elected MEP for Midlands-North West, Independent Ireland’s Ciaran Mullooly, was one of those unhappy with the passage of the law.

In a social media post outside the European Parliament building on his first day in Brussels, Mullooly claimed that Irish politicians did not fully scrutinise the law in the Dáil.

But how many times did they do so?

The Claim

Independent Ireland MEP Ciaran Mullooly claimed that the EU’s Nature Restoration Law was passed without sufficient consideration by politicians in Ireland.

In the caption of a video post on X criticising the law after it was passed on 18 June, he said:

“On my first day in Brussels, I want to express my deep dissatisfaction with the passing of the Nature Restoration laws without proper consideration by our Dáil - and I share the deep disquiet of my colleague [TD Michael Fitzmaurice].”

The Evidence

First of all, it’s important to re-state that the Nature Restoration Law is European legislation as opposed to Irish legislation.

It is a type of EU law that is known as a Regulation, which means it will automatically apply across all EU member states as soon as it enters into force, without the need to be transposed into national law.

The law seeks to restore at least 20% of the EU’s land and sea areas by 2030 and all ecosystems by 2050, and contains measures to restore urban, forest, agricultural and marine ecosystems across the continent.

As it’s an EU-wide law, it was proposed and passed by European institutions and was first tabled by the European Commission (which draws up proposals for European legislation).

After some compromise, its final wording was agreed at the European Parliament in February, before it was signed off by EU environment ministers at the EU Environment Council on Monday.

11 of Ireland’s 13 MEPs from the Green Party, Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil and two Independents voted in favour of the law in February, with just two MEPs – Independent Luke Ming Flanagan and Sinn Féin’s Chris MacManus – voting against. 

However, the Oireachtas and its committees also debate European legislation once it is going to affect Ireland.

The Nature Restoration Law was discussed by the Oireachtas multiple times.

A search of Oireachtas debates shows that the law was first mentioned in the Dáil on 6 April 2022 by Green Party TD Marc Ó Cathasaigh in a debate about carbon budgets.

It has since been brought up numerous times, including in responses by ministers to Parliamentary Questions, in Oireachtas committees, or in passing during other debates.

But how many times has the Oireachtas specifically scrutinised the Nature Restoration Law?

The first occasion was at a hearing of the Oireachtas Committee on Agriculture held on 18 January 2023, when TDs and Senators met to discuss what was then known as  COM(2022)304, a regulation from the European Parliament and European Council on nature restoration.

It was then brought up again at a hearing of the Oireachtas Committee on Environment and Climate Action on 28 March 2023, when it was specifically referred to as the “nature restoration law” and was included in a discussion about land use. 

Two months later, the law was mentioned at length during a Dáil discussion about biodiversity action on 25 May 2023.

Less than a week after that, on 31 May 2023, the Nature Restoration Law was the subject of a specific Dáil debate about agriculture, which saw around 30 TDs from across the political spectrum make contributions.

On 6 July 2023, it was also mentioned at length in a discussion about the National Parks and Wildlife Service (though it was not the specific focus of that discussion).

The law was then brought up multiple times at another hearing of the Oireachtas Committee on Agriculture on 24 January 2024, this time on the broad subject of EU legislative proposals (though again it was not the specific focus of that committee).

It was then the subject of a specific debate on 7 March 2024, when the Dáil set aside time for statements on the Nature Restoration Law.

Finally, the law was the subject of yet another debate during a proposed amendment on 12 June 2024.

Crucially, the Dáil also held a lengthy debate and vote on whether to approve the Nature Restoration law on 5 July 2023; it passed with 121 TDs in favour and just nine TDs against (with six abstentions).

At the time, then independent TD Michael Fitzmaurice – who subsequently joined  Independent Ireland alongside Mullooly – tabled a motion that called on the Government to reject the law and to introduce a number of measures for farmers.

That proposal was ultimately defeated.

The Journal contacted Mullooly to seek clarity on his remarks and outlined how the Nature Restoration Law had been brought up and debated in the Dáil multiple times.

In response, a spokesperson shared a screenshot from an article in Agriland that appears to have been published several hours after Mullooly’s post on X.

The screenshot contained a quote from Vincent Roddy of the Irish Natura and Hill Farmers’ Association, who criticised the approval of the law on 17 June.

“Last Wednesday, Dáil Éireann passed a motion that ensures farmland targeted under the Nature Restoration Law can continue to operate a range of activities that ensures these lands can continue to be defined as an agricultural area under Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) programmes and that such status can be maintained,” Roddy is quoted as saying.

It continues: “As the state moves to developing a national plan it is vital that the detail included in the Dáil motion is reflected in any national plan.”

Mullooly’s spokesperson referenced Dáil discussions about the Nature Restoration Law “twice in recent weeks”, in particular the proposed amendment on 12 June.

But they did not respond to specific queries about the other debates, votes or hearings that took place over the last 18 months.

The Dáil considered the wording of the legislation on multiple occasions, and TDs were given a chance to vote on its wording long before it went back to the European Parliament this spring.


Independent Ireland MEP Ciaran Mullooly claimed on X that the Nature Restoration Law was not properly considered by the Dáil.

The law, which is European legislation, was passed on 17 June after being approved by European Environment ministers, which followed its approval by the European Parliament in February 2024.

However, it was also the subject several Dáil debates and multiple Oireachtas committee hearings in the 18 months up to June 2024, as well as a full vote on whether TDs should approve it in June 2023 – which was passed by 121 TDs to nine.

Records of the Oireachtas show that, to date, the Nature Restoration Law has been brought up at length in 6 different debates since the start of 2023; of these, 4 debates and 1 vote were dedicated specifically to it.

The law has also been the subject of 2 Oireachtas committee hearings, as well as discussed at other committee hearings and multiple times during other Dáil debates.

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