Minister of State for Heritage Malcolm Noonan TD has announced the doubling of Conservation Rangers in the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) as part of an emergency response to the devastating fires in Killarney National Park and Co. Mayo over the past week.
“We’re doubling our intake of NPWS Conservation Rangers and accelerating the recruitment process. In addition, the National Parks and Wildlife Service will be working with An Garda Síochána to investigate the cause of this fire and fully assess the damage. If anyone has any information about the fires in Kerry or Mayo, I appeal to you to contact your local NPWS office or the Gardaí,” Minister Noonan stated.
Minister Noonan will also be engaging across key Government ministries to put in place a coordinated effort ahead of the ‘outdoor summer’ to protect the country’s natural beauty spots as people make the most of the easing of Covid-19 restrictions.
Commenting on the impact the fires have had on Ireland’s wildlife and in local communities, Minister Noonan stated:
“We are in a climate and biodiversity emergency, and to deliberately destroy precious upland habitats in this way is absolutely criminal. I’m thoroughly devastated by what I’ve witnessed here today. The reckless and shameful deliberate setting of fires has enormous impacts on people as well as nature. My heart goes out to the communities who live in these areas and have to breathe in the smoke, the individuals and families whose property is put at risk, and of course to our emergency services who put themselves in the front line.”
“Every year we see devastating fires across our island, started illegally by people who have zero regard for the consequences. Aside from such malicious activities, one of the main challenges is to encourage members of the public, (including landowners, farmers and recreational users of publicly accessible land), to act responsibly at all times, to be mindful of their own safety and the safety of others, to be mindful of the need to protect property, both publicly owned and privately owned and to appreciate the value of our natural heritage, particularly in our National Parks, Nature Reserves and Designated (Natura 2000) Sites.”
Green Party representative for the Killarney area, Diarmaid Griffin, spoke about the impact these fires have had on the local community:
“As someone who has worked as a volunteer in Killarney National Park, I’m devastated by what happened at the weekend and glad that Ministers Malcolm Noonan and Darragh O’Brien are visiting Killarney today to see the damage first-hand and show solidarity at this time of great loss to the people of Killarney.
“Minister Noonan set up a review of the National Parks and Wildlife Service in February, is establishing a Wildlife Crime Unit within the NPWS, and has called on citizens to join a Conservation Corps, so I know he takes the preservation of wildlife and biodiversity very seriously. I’m looking forward to the Land Use Review which will be conducted by the Departments of Environment and Agriculture, along with the EPA and should include how we use our uplands.”
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