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10th September 2020 | Press Releases

Oireachtas briefing: Minister Catherine Martin encourages people to Stay and Spend in Ireland

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After many years of campaigning by the Green Party and others, the long-awaited Waste Action Plan for a Circular Economy was announced on Friday by Green Party leader and Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment, Eamon Ryan TD. The plan follows efforts to pass the Green Party’s Waste Reduction Bill, brought to the Dáil in 2017, and places Ireland at the vanguard of EU efforts.

This ambitious new plan to tackle waste and move towards a circular economy includes halving our food waste by 2030, the introduction of a deposit and return scheme for plastic bottles and cans, a ban on certain single use plastics from July 2021, and a levy on disposable cups. Other measures include applying green criteria and circular economy principles in all public procurement, a waste recovery levy to encourage recycling, and ensuring all packaging is reusable or recyclable by 2030.

This new policy will require us to move beyond a position of merely managing waste, to where we question our use of resources and materials, how to reconsider product design to reduce waste generation and how we extend the productive life of the goods and products that we use.

“We all know that our current model of production and consumption is unsustainable in terms of resource use, waste disposal, climate change and loss of biodiversity”, Minister Ryan said at the launch of the Waste Action Plan. “What we need to do is rethink our relationship with our stuff – how we produce it, use it and dispose of it. This plan sets out how we will go about that in a way that benefits people and planet.”

“Every sector, every household, every business, and organisation across Ireland has a role to play in the transition to a circular economy. Through increased awareness, better-informed consumption decisions and buy-in to a shared responsibility, Ireland can become a leader in this field delivering environmental, social and economic benefits.”

Minister Ryan also launched the Government’s Brexit Readiness Action Plan alongside An Taoiseach Micheál Martin and Tánaiste Leo Varadkar. The Action Plan provides guidance and advice to business and individuals in areas including the trade in goods and services, customs processes, import duties, EU single market accreditations, use of the UK land bridge, retail trade, including online retail with the UK, the transfer of data, the movement of pets, recognition of qualifications, and many other issues which will arise at the end of the Transition Period.

Minister Ryan said: “Brexit is going to change the way business operates and we need to be ready. The public and business response to the challenges of the last year have been extraordinary. We have done so much to protect one another and to move forward, it has been remarkable. But we need to continue to look forward. The challenge of Brexit to Irish business is huge but by working together and taking action now we can reduce those impacts.”

“Since the outset of the Brexit process, transport connectivity has been one of our key concerns, and in particular the connectivity to the UK and our EU trading partners. Brexit will bring change regardless of whether an agreement is achieved or not.”

Minister for Media, Tourism, Arts, Culture, Sport and the Gaeltacht Catherine Martin TD launched the Stay and Spend scheme, alongside An Taoiseach Micheál Martin TD and Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe TD. Stay and Spend is a tax scheme supported by Fáilte Ireland and the National Tourism Development Authority and is aimed at consumers to help drive sales in the hospitality sector during the off-season which has been negatively impacted as a result of COVID-19.

Speaking on the launch of the Stay and Spend Scheme, Minister Catherine Martin said: “The hospitality and tourism sectors have been particularly badly hit as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic and the necessary public health restrictions. These sectors are vital to our economy, accounting for over ten per cent of the country’s workforce.

“I encourage everyone to avail of this scheme whether through a staycation or by choosing to support local participating businesses in their own community who may be struggling during this difficult time.

“Supporting local level initiatives can initially seem like a small effort, however it will provide a necessary boost to our local economy throughout this difficult period whilst also providing crucial income for many businesses in the hospitality and tourism sectors and I encourage everyone to spend in their own locality when they can.”

Minister Martin TD also this week met by videoconference with representatives of the sport sector, ministers and Acting Chief Medical Officer Dr Ronan Glynn to discuss the public health response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Ministers and the acting CMO expressed their appreciation for the role the sporting bodies played as part of the response to the COVID-19 pandemic and in particular the support provided by the sporting bodies to the Health Service Executive and the Community Call.

“Sport is a vital part of Irish life and my officials and Sport Ireland will continue to support the sector through the challenging winter months ahead,” Minister Martin said. “I can assure the sport sector that your concerns will be raised at the Cabinet table as we discuss the new roadmap to be published in the middle of the month.”

Minister of State for Heritage and Electoral Reform, Malcolm Noonan, TD, has announced the establishment of a new Community Monuments Fund. The Fund forms part of the July Jobs Stimulus 2020 which aims to offset some of the effects of Covid-19 by revitalising the economy, providing protection for small businesses and getting people back to work.

Speaking today, Minister Noonan said: “We have a responsibility towards our heritage and to those who care for it and this investment will help to ensure that it continues to enrich all of our lives as we emerge from this crisis.

“This is just one measure from the additional investment we are making in the heritage sector through the jobs stimulus initiative, investment that we will aim to build on in the years ahead to secure jobs and protect heritage, making it more accessible to all. The grant assistance to landowners and communities in the maintenance, protection and promotion of local monuments and historic sites in private ownership will help the heritage sector and provide opportunities for heritage enhancement across the country.”