“Farmers have done a good job as custodians of the wealth of the nation, our natural resources and wildlife, and they have gone beyond the call of duty.
Many members of the older generation in rural areas would be amused to think that this legislation is necessary. This very important and timely legislation has been in gestation for 15 years. During that time many public representatives from all political parties called for its introduction. When the Minister was in opposition she was to the forefront in calling for its introduction and it is very gratifying for her to present this Bill to both the Dail and Seanad.
One of the biggest challenges facing the Minister in drafting the legislation was the harmonisation of our international commitments with our national aspirations. She has done a very fine job in this regard and nobody could suggest that the Bill is punitive. Rather the opposite is the case because if it was punitive the Minister would almost certainly have proposed the compulsory acquisition of land. I am glad she did not do this.
It is a pity this legislation is necessary and it should only act as an instrument to ensure that we alert people to their duties. To paraphrase a dictum by Fintan Lalor, landowners are the custodians of the nation's wealth, which, by extension, includes our natural resources.
Senator Labhras Ó Murchú speaking during the debate on the Wildlife (Amendment) Bill.