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Friends of the Earth pickets Social Partnership talks

15 Feb 2007

GroupProtest at "lockout" of environment groups

Friends of the Earth picketed the meeting of the social partners today to protest at the exclusion of environmental groups. The Department of the Taoiseach has twice turned down written requests from environmental organizations to discuss their participation in Social Partnership. The first meeting of the parties to the latest Partnership deal, Towards 2016, took place on Thursday the 15th February at Dublin Castle. It was addressed by An Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern TD, and attended by representatives of IBEC, ICTU, IFA and other social partners.

Friends of the Earth director, Oisin Coghlan, said:
"It's absurd that environmental groups are being locked out of social partnership at a time when climate change and energy sustainability are looming large. 10 years ago, when this government was first elected they promised to put the environment at the heart of public policy. Now, with Ireland's climate pollution spiralling out of control, Bertie Ahern is refusing to allow environmental groups take part in Towards 2016 discussions. Meanwhile, scientists are telling us 10 years is all the time we have left to stop climate change running out of control".

The Social Partnership meeting comes the day before the EPA is due to release figures showing that Irelands' greenhouse gas emissions have risen to 25% above 1990 levels, almost twice the rise the Government committed to under the Kyoto Protocol. The EPA report will be published on Kyoto Day, 16th February, the second anniversary of the day in 2005 when the Kyoto Protocol came into force.

In the latest national agreement, Towards 2016, the social partners say their goal is to achieve 'a dynamic, internationalized and participatory Irish society, founded on a commitment to social justice and economic development that is both environmentally sustainable and internationally competitive.'

Mr Coghlan commented:
"To make sure the Partnership talks do more than pay lip-service to sustainability environmental organisations need to be at the table. All sectors of society are going to have to play their part if Ireland is going to do its fair share to prevent climate chaos. Friends of the Earth is asking all social partners to support the inclusion of environmental groups in the Partnership process".

Both Labour and the Green Party have agreed to include environmental groups in partnership if they are in government after the General Election.

1) For a 2-page backgrounder on the correspondence between Irish environmental NGOs and the Department of the Taoiseach click here.
2) For an analysis of the importance of social partnership to environmental sustainability click here for a Friends of the Earth opinion piece first published after Towards 2016 was agreed last year.

3) Click here to send an email to the Taoiseach asking him to allow environmental groups join Social Partnership.

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