October 25th, 2023
In a significant development with my Ministry, I have been delegated new responsibilities following a decision at cabinet this week.
This sees my official title change to Minister of State with responsibility for Nature, Heritage and Electoral Reform, and marks the first time an Irish government Minister has been designated explicit responsibility for 'nature'.
The areas of marine protection, water quality and protection for Ireland's rivers and lakes now fall my Ministerial brief, bringing the National Parks and Wildlife Service, water quality and marine protection all under the same Ministry.
The job of restoring nature is enormously challenging, but it's a challenge that I, and this government, have always taken extremely seriously. By bringing the key agencies and action areas definitively under the remit of one Minister, we are better positioned to take on that challenge with a more coherent and integrated approach to environmental policy.
As I've said previously this year, in many ways 2023 has been a pivotal year for nature. It was a year that saw intense debates around the EU's Nature Restoration Law, water quality and the nitrates derogation, and of course the report of the Citizens' Assembly on Biodiversity Loss, meaning that nature has never been higher up on the political agenda.
I was proud to see that reflected in Budget 2024, with a record heritage budget of €166 million and the establishment of an unprecedented €3.15 billion Climate and Nature Fund, and I'm proud now to see it elevated to a direct area of responsibility under my brief.
With Budget 2024 we gave an important signal at an important time of our commitment to protecting and restoring nature, and with this change to my title and the delegation of new responsibilities that are critical to achieving our goals we are rubberstamping our intention to take action.