“Listen Now Again” Josepha Madigan

The ‘Silent Spring’ Heritage Bill

Poem “Death of a Naturalist”.

[Extract courtesy of former Nobel laureate and the late great poet Mr Seamus Heaney]

“Bubbles gargled delicately, bluebottles
Wove a strong gauze of sound around the smell.
There were dragonflies, spotted butterflies,
But best of all was the warm thick slobber
Of frog-spawn that grew like clotted water
In the shade of the banks”.

Definition of a Politician: One who shakes your hand before an election and your confidence afterwards.

Fine Gael Party Vote Catcher Josepha Madigan, at the opening, this month, of the new Cultural and Heritage Centre at the Bank of Ireland, College Green, Dublin.

A dark day for Irish biodiversity

The new ‘Silent Spring’ Heritage Bill; now passed into law and which allows for the burning of vegetation in March and hedge-cutting in August under a pilot project, will now encompass the entire country; with July 5th 2018 surely one of the most despondent of days for Mother Nature.

Sole Fine Gael T.D. and Minister for Culture, Heritage & the Gaeltacht, Josepha Madigan together with her predecessor “Burn the Heather” Humphreys, had cited road safety concerns as the reason behind this Bill.  This need to fix the unbroken, however, was more akin to an F.G election gimmick and a hoped-for increased farming vote, rather than the remedying of any slight contradiction existing between the Road Traffic Act and the Wildlife Act.

Name me one road traffic incident, in the last five years, which involved an overgrown hedge and what has the burning of heather (not Humphreys) and gorse to do with health and safety?

Needless to say, Fianna Fáil were not going to lose out on any attempt to sway farming voters either and to their shame, supported this unnecessary Bill.

Sinn Féin opposed the Bill and Co. Kerry party member Martin Ferris associated the declining bird populations to excessive burning. However, local Sinn Féin Templemore/ Thurles Municipal District councillor Mr David Doran has gone against the views of his party, on local TippFM radio, demanding a pro-active approach by Tipperary County Council in the cutting of hedges out of season in Co. Tipperary.

Let’s be honest, what would Josepha and her sweaty constituency of Dublin/Rathdown, actually know or understand, when it comes to the burning of heather and gorse and the cutting back of rural hedge-rows. Some 32,500 Irish people had signed a petition opposing this Bill, while conservationists, environmental groups, wildlife non-governmental organisations, and smart farmers supporting biodiversity, claimed this Bill was not based on any scientific basis whatsoever.

“When gorse is out of blossom, kissing’s out of fashion”.
Rural people should ask the question, “Have I heard the cry of the Curlew in recent years?”  “No”, I hear you say! Well currently, there are only some 125 pairs of breeding Curlew’s left in Rural Ireland (None I hasten to add in Dublin / Rathdown) and there is now a real risk that Josepha’s Heritage Bill will sound the death knell for not just Curlews, but for many other species of wildlife, including our already depleted bee population, which hugely depend from February to May on Gorse yellow pea-flowers as their early food source. Currently one third of Ireland’s 98 wild bee species are under threat of extinction.

The Bill will also result in severe consequences for late-nesting birds, such as the endangered Yellowhammer, latter Red-listed (Latter being the world’s most comprehensive inventory of the global conservation status of plant and animal species here in Ireland.), due to a decline in the breeding range and population, (Incidentally have you seen one in Co. Tipperary recently?).

Interesting to note that in England the penalties that can be imposed for criminal offences in respect of a single endangered bird, a nest or an egg, under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, deservedly levies an unlimited fine, or up to six months imprisonment or both.

One wonders if Josepha, while taking on the role of priest and leading the prayers in the Church of St Therese in Mount Merrion, Dublin recently, did she recite the Apostles Creed, you know the line; “Maker of Heaven and Earth,” or perhaps come across the Dublin born Mrs Cecil F. Alexander’s hymn, “All things bright and beautiful”?

All things bright and beautiful, All creatures great and small,
All things wise and wonderful, The Lord God made them all.
Each little flower that opens, Each little bird that sings,
He made their glowing colours, He made their tiny wings.

We agree with you Josepha, No Votes for Fine Gael here.

Just when we are about to acknowledge, both at home and globally, that our natural world is on its bare knees environmentally, this Fine Gael government, (whom thank God, we have successfully rid ourselves totally here in Co. Tipperary), has decided to weaken the very basic of conservation rules; despite the knowledge that we are incapable and incompetent in attempts to enforce current basic environmental laws, already existing.

Josepha’s legal motto, carried on her twitter account page states the Latin phrase; “Per tenebras lucem quaero”. [ Translation, “Through the darkness (or from darkness), I seek the light”]. Perhaps in Josepha’s case the legal phrase; “Qui male agit, odit lucem” might be considered more appropriate. [ Latter translated, “The one who commits evil shuns the light”.]


1 comment to “Listen Now Again” Josepha Madigan

  • George Willoughby

    One wonders if Michael D Higgins will sign this Bill into law. Remember his speak at Cabragh Wetlands ( on May 19th 2018 last. Let me remind you:- ( “We are now witnessing the most negative manifestations of human influence: the catastrophic effects of climate change produced by the emission of greenhouse gases and changes in land-use, such as the drainage of bogs and wetlands; the alteration of the phosphorus, sulphur, and as we know so well in Ireland, the nitrogen cycles, each one an ecological process vital to life on our planet; disruptions to the terrestrial water cycle, so vital to rain-fed agriculture in a pastoral economy such as our own; and of course, most tragically, the onset of the sixth great mass extinction event in the history of our planet, in which SO MUCH BIODIVERSITY has already been lost. This Visitor Centre is a fitting testament to your efforts over the many years. It comes in the midst of our planetary emergency, and is more urgently required than ever before, for it provides us with hope for a better, more socially just and ecologically sustainable future.”

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