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Dáil Éireann debate -
Wednesday, 4 Dec 2019

Vol. 990 No. 5

Microbeads (Prohibition) Bill 2019: Report and Final Stages

Bill received for final consideration.
Question proposed: "That the Bill do now pass."

What we are doing in respect of microbeads is significant. We are bringing forward a ban on microbeads and being more ambitious than our EU partners. Due to the changes we are making, our EU partners will be playing catch-up with us. To protect the environment, including our watercourses and marine environment, and as part of the wider programme of climate action, it is significant legislation. There was good debate on the matter in the House, with a consensus approach, which is why we have been able to conclude it so swiftly. I sought a derogation from the market laws with the Commission at an early stage in order that we could move quickly, which I am glad to say happened.

I am also glad for the support we received. The former Senator, Grace O'Sullivan, from the Green Party and Deputy Sherlock from the Labour Party had each drafted legislation on the issue but withdrew them in order that we could progress the legislation before us. I thank them very much for that and for making the issue a priority with me, because as a result I made it a priority with my Department, which is why, working together, we have been able to do what we have done. It is a positive outcome from the process they started.

Is it possible to say a word on the Bill?

I acknowledge that Deputy Sean Sherlock and the former Senator, Grace O'Sullivan, MEP, introduced a Private Member's Bill on microbeads. We have been supportive of it throughout the process. The introduction of the Private Members' Bill probably triggered Government action. As a result of the co-operation of the committee and all parties in the House, the Bill is before the House today. I thank the Minister and all of the officials for the work they have done on it.

On behalf of my colleague, Deputy Sean Sherlock, I thank the Minister for bringing forward the Bill in response to legislation introduced by Deputy Sherlock and the former Senator, Grace O'Sullivan, MEP. Deputy Sherlock felt very strongly about this issue. He has arrived in the Chamber and I will let him speak for himself.

I will be extremely flexible.

The Acting Chairman is very kind. I thank my colleague and I apologise for not being here on time. I congratulate the Minister because I genuinely believe he made a decent effort in bringing the Bill before us. The process started with Grace O'Sullivan, MEP. I have had some pitched battles, if I could put it that way, with the Minister on occasion in respect of this legislation and we had one or two stand-up rows. Notwithstanding the Minister's current travails, he genuinely sought to legislate for this matter and I appreciate his efforts in that regard. I told him this could be his lasting legacy. I am not sure about the housing issue, but this certainly could be something that will be part of his legacy as Minister and I congratulate him in that regard.

I want to satisfy myself that the issues raised on Second Stage have been comfortably dealt with and that, once the legislation comes into effect, we will ban microplastics in this country. I again seek that reassurance from the Minister. As I said, the former Senator, Grace O'Sullivan, MEP, started the ball rolling on this legislation. We in the Labour Party took up the cudgel and I accept that the Minister has been genuine in his attempt to legislate and make Ireland, as an island nation, a forerunner in western Europe on this vital issue.

Question put and agreed to.