I hope this motion is something that will commend itself to the committee. Essentially, we are signing up to the Minamata Convention. The convention addresses all aspects of the use of mercury throughout its life cycle. The convention sets out a range of measures banning mercury mining and so on. We have signed up to the convention as a result of having enacted a series of EU legislative requirements, which are in fact more stringent than the Minamata Convention. We have put in place protections that go beyond what was required by the convention. Now that those have been implemented, we are in a position to sign. The regulations we signed into being in December provide an import ban on metallic mercury, a ban on mercury production, the regulation of industries that use mercury in their processes, the regulation and safe storage and treatment of mercury, and regulations on the use and environmentally sound management of dental amalgam used in the production of silver fillings.
The convention has been ratified by 102 countries, including 22 member states of the European Union. In general terms, mercury is not a major problem in Ireland. We have extremely low levels of identified presence in air and water as well as in fish. We do not have a significant problem in this area.
In terms of the implementation of the convention and the mercury regulations, the Environmental Protection Agency will be the competent authority with responsibility for monitoring. The Revenue Commissioners will have a role in terms of trade. Local authorities will have a role in the safe handling, storage and sound disposal of mercury waste. The Health Products Regulatory Authority will have a role in ensuring the dental amalgam used by Irish dentists complies with EU standards. The Dental Council of Ireland will ensure the dental sector is aware of its obligations.
That is the basic picture.