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'A punch in the gut': Outrage as wetlands area in Tallaght is destroyed

Environmentalists and the local council had been working together to protect the area, which was home to thousands of animals and plants.

before and after 1 Before and after Source: Collie Ennis

ENVIRONMENTALISTS HAVE EXPRESSED outrage at the destruction of part of a wetlands area in Tallaght.

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.

It’s, as of yet, unclear how the damage was caused. 

The Herpetological Society of Ireland (HIS) has been working with South Dublin County Council (SDCC) in recent months to survey and protect the area. Herpetology is the branch of zoology concerned with the study of amphibians.

Collie Ennis, a science officer with HIS, said he found the wetlands area destroyed when he went to survey it yesterday. Ennis told he is “completely heartbroken” and that seeing the area flattened was “a punch in the gut” after months of work.

Ennis said that HIS had received assurances from SDCC that the area would be protected. Steps to do so are included in a draft Local Area Plan for Tallaght, which outlines a vision for the locality from 2020 to 2026 and is currently undergoing a period of public consultation.

Ennis said he doesn’t believe the area was destroyed deliberately, but that a miscommunication may have led to the situation. 

I think it’s a miscommunication, rather than cynical, but it’s just not good enough. It happens too much in this country … the thing that always suffers is nature.

Ennis said the area was flattened in recent days. He has been unable to confirm what happened but believes it may have been caused when a nearby ornamental pond was being drained. However, this has not been confirmed by the council. has contacted SDCC for comment. Councillors are due to discuss the situation at a meeting with council management tomorrow. 

“We want to get to the bottom of it and see what caused it. We’re not trying to go after anyone, we want to continue working with the council, but this kind of stuff needs to stop happening.

It’s a totally unnecessary destruction of a really unique habitat.

Wetlands absorb more carbon than trees, making them very important in terms of the wider environment. 

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‘A miraculous area’

Ennis said the wetlands area comprises a “multilayered ecosystem” and is “really, really important” to Tallaght, noting: “There’s a lot of urban expansion and natural areas are getting squeezed out.”

The area was formerly waste ground that had rewilded naturally. Ennis said it is “a miraculous little area” and local people are “devastated” that part of it has been destroyed.

spawn One of the spawning areas that has been destroyed. Source: Collie Ennis

“People like their green spaces and they want to see nature protected,” he said, as evidenced by the thousands of people who took part in climate change demonstrations across Ireland on Friday. 

“A lot of work went in by volunteers to survey it, there were some critically endangered species in there.

“Stuff like this should not be happening … a full restoration is needed,” Ennis said. 

About the author:

Órla Ryan

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