16th December 2021 | Press Releases

Green Ministers launch the Circular Economy Strategy, Pilot Basic Income Forum and the Official Languages Bill

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Minister Smyth launches Ireland’s first Whole of Government Circular Economy Strategy

The Minister of State with responsibility for the Circular Economy at the Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications, Ossian Smyth TD, has launched Ireland’s first Whole of Government Circular Economy Strategy.

In a circular economy, waste is minimised. Products are kept in use for as long as possible, through design, repair and reuse. When a product has reached the end of its life, its parts are used again and again – to create further useful products.

“The days of extracting virgin natural resources, making things with them and then throwing them away must come to an end”, Minister Smyth said. “The transition to a circular economy has a key role to play in climate action. 45% of our emissions are directly related to producing goods. Reducing the quantity of natural resources that we use and waste also reduces pressure on the quality of our air, soils and water and creates sustainable employment around the country.

“We all understand how saving energy and being energy efficient are critical for the climate. Now, we need to think this way about our material resources, like food, metals, plastic, concrete. A circular economy shows us how we can do this. This new strategy provides a really important policy signal across the public and private sectors that circularity belongs at the heart of sustainability.”

Deputy Leddin welcomes completion of JOCCA Report on Pre-Legislative Scrutiny of Circular Economy Bill 2021

This week, pre-legislative scrutiny was completed on the Circular Economy Bill 2021 by the Joint Committee on Environment and Climate Action, chaired by Green Party TD Brian Leddin. The Committee’s Report makes a total of 48 recommendations covering the language used in the Bill, targets and accountability, and further considerations.

“The current global economic model is based on a linear model of ‘take – make – waste’ whereby raw materials or natural resources are taken and turned into products that ultimately become waste due to their design”, Deputy Leddin said. “A circular economy minimises waste by reusing or remanufacturing products or parts of products, keeping materials in use for longer. A circular economy model therefore offers a more environmentally and economically sustainable alternative to the linear model. 

“The Programme for Government sets out commitments in respect of waste and a circular economy action plan with intentions for measures to introduce and promote a more sustainable and responsible system and culture for consumption, use and re-use of materials and end of use recycling and disposals. The Circular Economy Bill is a key part of this process and the General Scheme was published by the Government in June and referred to the Committee for scrutiny.” 

Minister Martin welcomes enactment of Official Languages ​​Bill to preserve the Irish language for future generations

The Official Languages ​​(Amendment) Bill 2019 has been passed through Dáil Éireann. The provisions include increasing the number of Irish speakers recruited to the Public Service, meaning that by the end of 2030, 20% of new recruits will be Irish speakers, that State services will be provided through the medium of Irish in the Gaeltacht and that all public offices located in a Gaeltacht area will operate through the medium of Irish. To this end, the Irish Language Services Advisory Committee will be established and will publish a National Plan for the provision of public services through the medium of Irish.

Welcoming the announcement of the Bill’s passage through the Oireachtas, the Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media, Catherine Martin TD, said;

“This is a historic day for the Irish language and Gaeltacht community. I understand the importance of the language as the first official language of the State, as a valuable part of the heritage of this island and, more importantly, as a living language in the Gaeltacht community. The 20 Year Strategy for the Irish Language ties in with this new Language Bill and specific actions set out in the Strategy and 5 Year Action Plan 2018-2022 which addresses the challenges of recruiting Irish speakers to the Public Service, among other things.” 

The enactment of this Bill comes at a historic time in the life of the Irish language as the derogation on the use of Irish in the European Union institutions will end on 1 January 2022 – giving the language the same status in the Union as major European languages.

Minister Catherine Martin hosts Stakeholder Forum on Pilot Basic Income for the Arts

This week, Catherine Martin TD also hosted a stakeholder forum on Basic Income for the Arts (BIA) to elicit the views of artists and those working in the arts and culture sector. Minister Martin established the Arts and Culture Recovery Taskforce in 2020 as a response to the pandemic, and to provide a platform for solution-focused recommendations for the recovery of the arts and culture sector. The number one recommendation of the taskforce was the introduction of a basic income for the arts pilot scheme.

“This is a once in a generation policy intervention, a measure that I believe will redraw the landscape for the arts for hopefully many years to come”, Minister Martin said. “Our culture and the arts are a fundamental expression of who we are as a nation.  Our rich cultural heritage is one of our greatest assets, and our artists weave a sense of identity, creativity and belonging into the fabric of our communities. The intrinsic societal value of culture and the arts was particularly evident during the pandemic, where it provided colour, light and hope in uncertain times.”

Minister Ryan welcomes approval of Annex of Actions to Climate Action Plan 2021

The Government has approved the detailed Annex of Actions to support the delivery of Climate Action Plan 2021, an ambitious plan to put Ireland on a more sustainable path – cutting emissions, creating a cleaner, greener economy and society and protecting us from the devastating consequences of climate change.

The Annex of Actions follows Climate Act 2021, which commits Ireland to a legally binding target of net-zero greenhouse gas emissions no later than 2050, and a reduction of 51% by 2030. These targets are a key pillar of the Programme for Government.

“In 2021 we took two major steps towards our climate goals – passing the Climate Act, which commits us to cut emissions in half this decade and producing a new Climate Action Plan that sets out how to achieve that”, Minister Ryan said. “We now need to focus on the implementation of the plan by every part of Government. The details of what is needed are laid out in this Annex of Actions and backed up by enhanced project management to deliver it. We have seen that we can work across Government to tackle Covid. We now need to give the same cross-government impetus to our work on climate action, so we can reach our goals and create a cleaner, greener economy and society.

Minister Ryan welcomes Cabinet approval for €100 payment to all domestic electricity accounts

A €210m Scheme has been approved by Cabinet to credit all domestic electricity customers with €100 in 2022. Approximately 2.1 million domestic electricity account holders will benefit from the scheme for a one-off, exceptional payment to their electricity accounts. This is one of a range of measures to mitigate the impact of rising energy costs.

Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications, Eamon Ryan TD, said:

“The Government is very conscious that international energy prices are having a significant effect on utility bills. While we took measures in the Budget to support vulnerable groups, this credit is designed to provide all householders with a contribution to their electricity bills in the spring of 2022. In the long term, the way to reduce our dependence on internationally traded fossil fuels is to expand our own indigenous supply of renewable power. We are working towards having up to 80% of our electricity from renewables by 2030.”

Ministers Noonan and Martin encourage applications to Historic Structures Fund Irish-language shopfront scheme

Following on from the successful introduction of the Historic Structures Fund Irish-language shopfront scheme in 2021, the initiative will run again in 2022. Jointly funded by the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage and the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media, the stream will have a fund of €100,000 to support the conservation of traditional Irish-language shopfronts.

While Irish language signs were once common on shopfronts around the country, they have become an increasingly rare sight. It is hoped that this funding will help to increase the visibility of the Irish language while also protecting our shared built heritage.

Commenting on the opening of applications to this stream, Minister Noonan said:

“The conservation of historic shopfronts is a cause close to my heart and I am delighted that a dedicated stream for Irish-language shopfronts will run again under the Historic Structures Fund in 2022. It is my hope that the scheme will encourage and incentivise projects which preserve both our built and linguistic heritage, not only in Gaeltacht regions but across the whole country.”

Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media Catherine Martin TD said:

“This scheme is an excellent way of increasing the visibility of the Irish language and I am delighted that owners can once again avail of this scheme to preserve and protect structures of national and cultural importance. My department is looking forward to continuing our work with the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage on this exciting scheme.”