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Wicklow TD Jennifer Whitmore Calls Out Lack Of A Sufficient Wildlife Crime Unit.

The provision of just one staff member to the Wildlife Crime Unit has been described as “incredibly disappointing”, and an issue that urgently needs addressing.

The provision of just one staff member to the Wildlife Crime Unit has been described as “incredibly disappointing” and an issue that urgently needs addressing. The dedicated unit within the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS), which was first announced in October 2020, was welcomed by biodiversity activists and campaigners, who had long called for the NPWS to be given greater powers and resources in this area. Almost a year later, the Department of Housing, Heritage and Local Government was unable to give a firm date on when the unit would be established when asked by the Irish Examiner in September 2021.

Minister of state for heritage Malcolm Noonan had said the issue needed to be “tackled head-on”, considering the number of “devastating wildlife crimes in recent years”. This included the shooting and poisoning of birds of prey, wildfires in national parks, and the persecution of badgers, he said. However, Social Democrat TD for Wicklow Jennifer Whitmore this week asked Mr Noonan how many staff had been allocated to the Wildlife Crime Unit, along with the number of additional rangers employed across the country.

Mr Noonan said: “As this new unit grows and settles into its role, it will support the law enforcement work done in the regions — by providing guidance, advice, and training. To date, one member of staff has been formally assigned to the new unit, supported by a number of staff across other units.” Ms Whitmore said a fully resourced and functioning Wildlife Crime Unit is essential to protect the environment and said that the allocation of just one staff member was “incredibly disappointing”.

“It will not be sufficient to deal with the issues,” she said. The Wicklow TD explained that her party had called for a dedicated unit to be established within An Garda Síochána to bring their enforcement expertise to the table. “It’s clear it hasn’t got the emphasis or resourcing that’s needed,” said Ms Whitmore. “A lot of attention was put on this and promises made, but the funding has to be there to back that up.”

 

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