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'It defies logical explanation': Martin demands inquiry into Tallaght wetlands controversy

Minister Josepha Madigan has said her investigations unit is looking into the matter.

Before and after.
Before and after.
Image: Collie Ennis

FIANNA FÁIL LEADER Micheál Martin has told the Dáil a council depositing silt that destroyed an area of wetlands in Tallaght “demands an inquiry”. 

The area, which is located in Sean Walsh Memorial Park, is home to several species of plants and animals, including newts, frogs, bats and the critically endangered European eel.

Collie Ennis, science officer with the Herpetological Society of Ireland, had been working at the wetlands to survey and protect the area. On Saturday, he arrived to find the area destroyed

Ennis told TheJournal.ie he was “completely heartbroken” and that seeing the area flattened was “a punch in the gut” after months of work.

In a statement on Monday, South Dublin County Council confirmed it deposited silt in the area as it “habitually” had done so but said it will immediately review the practice in future.

Speaking during the Dáil’s Order of Business yesterday, Fianna Fáil’s Martin asked how a local authority or State agency could “engage in such environmental vandalism, attacking and destroying an area rich in biodiversity”.

He said: “On the day when thousands of children were marching nationally on climate change and the need to address it, local ecologists in the Tallaght area discovered that South Dublin County Council had essentially landfilled acres of reserve and habitat in Sean Walsh Memorial Park in Tallaght, destroying literally thousands of microorganisms and habitats.

South Dublin County Council had that very week identified the area in its own documentation and had included the protection of these wetland habitats and reserves as an objective in its Tallaght local area action plan.

Martin added that the it “defies any logical explanation” and “demands an inquiry because it suggests that all levels of government are not on board in respect of the most pressing issue of our time”, referencing the government’s climate action plan. 

In response, Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Josepha Madigan said the investigations unit within her department was looking into the matter.

“We have already contacted the heritage officer, notwithstanding what the county council has said about it,” she said. “I can come back to the deputy with a full report on that.”

Martin replied that he wished for Madigan to provide him with a written report. 

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), meanwhile, has confirmed it was also looking into the issue.

“The EPA is aware of this situation and has received a number of complaints from members of the public,” a spokesperson said. “The EPA is currently considering the situation and is seeking information from South Dublin County Council in relation to this matter.”

The spokesperson added that there are powers within legislation for the EPA to deal with environmental pollution “irrespective of whom is involved”.

With reporting from Órla Ryan

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Sean Murray

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