Michael Ewing - Thank you Chair for the opportunity to speak.I am the Coordinator of the Environmental Pillar in Ireland, an advocacy coalition of 27 national environmental NGOs

We welcome the ratification of the Convention by Ireland

I would like to start by saying that the process for developing Ireland's National Implementation Report was a good model of open analysis and public participation for which the Department of the Environment should be commended.

I would also like, in particular, to commend the Department on the support given by them to our efforts towards the education of lawyers and judges with regard to the Convention and in particular the Compliance Mechanism.

However, unfortunately, this first report from Ireland is in a format which lists rather than explains new legislation and the steps taken to move towards full implementation.

Regrettably then it reads more as a reference for legal practitioners than a readable explanation of the progress made towards implementing the Convention in Ireland.

We would hope that the following reports will more clearly constitute comprehensive information on the state of implementation in the manner envisaged by the Guidance on Reporting Requirements.

Taking a quick look at one particular issue, access to justice, the report's outline of the serious problem of the barrier created by legal costs unfortunately fails to reflect the real situation that exists in Ireland. Many stakeholders and lawyers consider Ireland's legal costs to be non-compliant with the Convention. Indeed that view is even reflected in relevant case law.

However, despite being requested in the public consultation on the draft report, the case law in question has not been cited in Ireland's National Implementation Report, consequently giving a misleading impression.

We hope that further consideration through the Convention's processes of implementation in Ireland will take these factors into account.

Finally, we welcome Ireland's statement this morning in the context of the ending of Ireland's role in the Public Participation Task Force that Ireland is committed to devoting extra effort to national implementation, and look forward to working constructively with them to this end.


An Taisce is a founder member of the Environmental Pillar