MEP Colm Markey has called on Minister for State Malcolm Noonan to stop hiding behind the line from his officials and to put in place an assessment that would allow for the de-designation of Lough Funshinagh as a SAC. He made the comments ahead of a public meeting on the issue tonight (Monday July 4th).
The Fine Gael MEP said, “I have received clear guidance from the EU that de-designation is possible but that the request must come from the Member State and that the procedure for de-classification must be decided by that State.”
This is in direct contrast to the position taken by Min. Noonan’s section of the Department who have publicly stated that the de-designation of Lough Funshinagh is not a national policy decision but a matter of European law and that there is no realistic prospect of de-designating Lough Funshinagh as an SAC.
“Either the Minister is taking an ideological position to keep in with the so-called Friends of the Irish Environment or he is being misled by his officials as to the possible options. Either way, the environment is suffering and local householders and landowners are suffering.
“I have written to the Minister asking him to undertake an immediate assessment of the current status of the habitat and the species that are the subject of the SAC. This will clearly show that the habitat is dead and the SAC designation is meaningless.
“It is time now for the Minister to take a proactive approach and to do whatever is necessary to restore Lough Funshinagh to its traditional drainage patterns.
“It is easy to hide behind an ideological debate when the water isn’t flowing in your back door. I am calling on the Minister to immediately put the people and the habitat first and help to come up with a practical solution for all, the Midlands-North-West MEP concluded.”