News & Media

Failure to implement smoky coal ban is outrageous

12 June 2019

Statement by Brendan Howlin TD
Party Leader and Spokesperson on Foreign Affairs and Northern Ireland

Labour Party Leader, Brendan Howlin TD, has called the government's position on a smoky coal ban “outrageous” when he raised the issue with the Minister for Climate Action in the Dáil yesterday.

Deputy Howlin said:

“The government has failed to implement the announced smoky coal ban for four years. This has a huge impact on my constituency of Wexford, particularly the town of Enniscorthy, which was recently named in a report as having twice the amount of harmful particles in the air compared to Dublin. We now know that smoky coal releases small particles into the air that affect lung health and can cause cancer. This an issue which I have raised with the Minister and in this house on a number of occasions. Labour introduced the ban four years ago, but Fine Gael failed to implement it.

“The Government is blaming the fear of litigation for its decision, yet they are suggesting that local councils such as Wexford should go it alone and introduce those laws. But the Government is not offering to indemnify the councils. They want Wexford County Council to be the canary in the coal mine and take all the risk of being sued.

“The abandoning of the national smoky coal ban is bad enough, but placing responsibility on local councils alone to deal with the issue is an outrageous abdication of duty by the government.

“This is not just a health issue. Businesses in the fuel industry that invested in good faith to produce smokeless fuel are now at an enormous disadvantage. They have been lead up the garden path by Fine Gael who is now bending to pressure from smoky coal producers. If there is any suing to be done, it is probably those industries that would feel aggrieved by a stated State policy to ban smoky coal that is now not being acted on.”