Press release

First Future Generations Commissioner of Wales urges Irish politicians to support the bill on the Commission for Future Generations

31st May 2024
 Deputy Marc Ó Cathasaigh pictured this week at Leinster House with Future Generations Commissioner for Wales, Mr. Derek Walker and Senator Pauline O’Reilly

Waterford T.D. Marc Ó Cathasaigh has seen his bill to establish an independent Commission for Future Generations progress through the Dáil, which would report on how best to establish an Office of Ombudsman for Future Generations, which would act as a guardian for the interests of future generations of Ireland.

Marc Ó Cathasaigh, T.D. said

"Well-being frameworks are being adopted by governments around the world. In 2021, the Irish government published the First Report on a Well-being Framework for Ireland, a framework to help measure Ireland’s progress as a country, capturing a sense of people’s overall quality of life, across health, environmental, social and economic aspects, and not solely measuring a country’s progress through the narrow lens of economic growth. There is now a global recognition that current development needs to deliver human and ecological well being in a sustainable manner for current and future generations.”

In Wales, The Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act of 2015 legislates for the provision, functions and resourcing of a Future Generations Commissioner of Wales, whose role it is to act as a guardian for the wellbeing and interests of future generations in Wales.

Speaking in support of the Bill, the former and first Welsh Commissioner for Future Generations, Sophie Howe, said

“I am urging T.D.s to support the Future Generations Bill and move it quickly to the Committee Stage. I am particularly asking the Taoiseach Simon Harris to support the bill. Why do we need long-term thinking in Ireland? Well, across the world we are grappling with problems such as climate change, an ageing population. Our next generation are faring worse than their parents and grandparents for the first time. It’s absolutely essential that we are thinking and acting for the long term. And all our politicians are considering future generations when they are taking decisions. Please do back this bill to move it to the next stage."

This Bill will establish an independent Commission for Future Generations to consider and report within 12 months on how best to set up an Office of Ombudsman for Future Generations in Ireland.

Coalition 2030, an alliance of over 70 civil society and trade union organisations in Ireland, urged T.D.s to back the bill saying “by progressing this Bill the Irish can blaze a trail in moving beyond short-term political cycles”.

The proposed Commission for Future Generations can also make recommendations in relation to a number of areas. These include the measurement of progress of the overall well-being of society, how to ensure best practice amongst public bodies and government departments in their practices while adhering to the principle of sustainable development, and the potential role of a Joint Oireachtas Committee on Future Generations.

In his Dáil speech on the bill, which was taken by the Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth, Marc Ó Cathasaigh said

"Our democracy and our electoral cycle tend to create conditions that reward promises and decisions with a short time-horizon. Take a look at the debates happening at the moment ahead of our Local and European Elections. How many candidates are outlining a 30-year vision of where we want to go in our society? And how many are offering, honestly or otherwise, quick fixes and instant solutions? And at the ballot box, which of those two approaches are more likely to be rewarded? This makes planning for the long term and for future generations extremely challenging."

"Future people cannot speak, advocate or, crucially, vote. In the strict electoral sense, these people do not count, yet morally and ethically we can feel this is not true. They must count, they must matter, yet our political system fails to adequately capture that. This is a failure that this bill aims to address."

Copy of the Bill and Explanatory Memo can be found here:

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