Ireland’s largest conservation charity, Birdwatch Ireland, has responded strongly to recent comments by Limerick Co. Councillor John Sheahan calling for an “Open Season” on the protected hen harrier — one of most threatened birds.
“Cllr. Sheahan’s ill-informed and short-sighted statement shows how far we have to travel as a state in prioritising our natural heritage over the self-interest of individuals,” said Alan Lauder, Chief Executive of Birdwatch Ireland.
“Such statements can have far-reaching consequences. The Hen Harrier is protected under both Irish and European Union law, and Cllr. Sheahan’s statement could be viewed as an incitement to break these laws. For any decision-maker to hold such views in the 21st Century is alarming. When that individual actually sits on the Advisory Committee of the Environmental Protection Agency and also represents Ireland on an EU committee that helps form policy on the environment, natural resources and biodiversity, as Cllr. Sheahan does, then it becomes pitiful, and even dangerous.”
The NGO condemned Cllr. Sheahan’s views as “nonesense”.
“Cllr. Sheahan appears to have bought into the fallacy that nature is the enemy of progress, and that environmental laws stand in the way of profits,” said Niall Hatch, BirdWatch Ireland’s Development Officer. “Judging by his misunderstanding of the theories proposed by Charles Darwin and the processes by which evolution works, he also seems to hold the patently untrue belief that our flora and fauna bounce back, regardless of what we do to them. The extinction of thousands of species around the world, including many here in Ireland, as a direct result of human activities sadly reveals his views to be nonsense.”
While Birdwatch Ireland acknowledges that the Irish Government needs to do more to help farmers and land owners who “do the right thing” for wildlife and the environment, in light of his irresponsible content the organisation is calling on Cllr. Sheahan to “consider his position” as chair of Limerick County Council, advisor to the Environmental Protection Agency and a representative on Ireland’s delegation to the EU Committee of the Regions.
View the full response here on the Birdwatch Ireland website.
Photo credit: Shay Connolly via Birdwatch Ireland.