Kilkenny Minister ‘thoroughly devastated’ by catastrophic wild fires
Kilkenny TD and Heritage Minister Malcolm Noonan said “thoroughly devasted” by the illegal fires that wiped-out huge swathes of Kilkenny National Park and parts of Mayo over the weekend.
Minister Noonan also said he believes the devastating wildfires were started deliberately.
The Kilkenny TD visitd the National Park in Kerry yesterday to see witness the devastation first hand. He used the occasion to announce that moves to hire more ‘Conservation Rangers’ would be accelerated.
Minister Noonan strongly condemned the fires that took place over the weekend in counties Kerry and Mayo, which damaged protected habitats and species, put communities and private property at risk and placed unnecessary additional burden on the emergency services.
Early estimations indicate that 2,500-3,000 hectares – approximately 50% of the terrestrial area of the Killarney park – has been impacted (total area of the park less the area of the lakes).
Minister Noonan said: “Every year we see devastating fires across our island, started illegally by people who have zero regard for the consequences.
“This weekend’s fires have destroyed the precious habitats of thousands of species and animals, rare and endangered birds, including Hen Harriers.
“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.”
Minister Noonan said the fires do not just endager species and wildlife, but also entire communities and frontline workers.
He added: “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.
“In the midst of a pandemic it is incredible that our emergency services are put in a position whereby their resources are pulled in this direction. In this regard I must express my appreciation for the Fire Service, An Garda Síochána, Killarney Water Rescue, the Air Corps, my National Park and Wildlife Service staff in Killarney and the local Meitheal who have worked tirelessly together to quench this fire,” Minister Noonan concluded.