Taoiseach urged to 'stop giving out about snails'
Anne Lucey - Irish Times
http://www.ireland.com/newspaper/irelan ... 27829.html
Taoiseach Bertie Ahern should stop giving out about "snails and
swans" holding up roads when it was he who encouraged support for
the European treaty that brought in the safeguards for them, the
president of An Taisce said yesterday.
Éanna Ní Lamhna criticised the "silly nonsense" being
spoken by those in power who had no environmental education and
thought they were the "only species on Earth".
Dr Ní Lamhna was in Muckross House in Killarney National
Park yesterday to launch the State's first third-level wildlife
The courses, a four-year BSc in wildlife biology and two-year
certificate in biological and environmental studies, are being
offered by the Institute of Technology, Tralee (ITT), in
partnership with Killarney National Park and the National Parks and
Wildlife Service. Students will spend at least one day a week on
fieldwork in the 25,000 acres of mountain woods and lakes of the
Referring to a radio news report the previous evening that
depicted the rare Kerry slug as holding up a Cork road, Dr Ní
Lamhna said: "Nobody made the point that this slug is not a
nuisance holding up development, but an indicator species of an
The slug was protected under the habitats directive of the
Maastricht treaty and the Taoiseach giving out about snails and
swans holding up major roads projects was at odds with his stance
on that treaty, she said.
"You wouldn't think he [ Mr Ahern] encouraged people to vote for
this treaty," said Dr Ní Lamhna, in reference to Mr Ahern's
support for the treaty.
The An Taisce president, who is a biologist and college
lecturer, also claimed Éamon De Valera's emphasis on the Irish
language in education had pushed the sciences aside.
His education policy had produced people with wonderful Irish,
but without any knowledge of the environment, she said, breaking
into Irish as she spoke.
Biology was made a Leaving Cert subject only in 1971 and 40
years ago girls were not offered or encouraged to study science.
Between 1936 and 1971 students were taught "not a single word about
That meant the people in power now, such as county managers and
politicians, had learned nothing about the environment or biology
at school, she said.
People did not want to hear any more of the "silly nonsense"
about snails holding up roads and "what did snails ever do for us?"
and so on, "as if we were the only species on Earth".
The course being offered by the ITT was "very timely" and was at
the cusp of a new environmental awareness, she added.