One of the unfortunate impacts of the government’s austerity programme is not only that standards fall but that things simply do not get done. Check the newspapers on any day and you will find examples of this in one or other sector: hospital operations not happening, medical cards not getting issued to those entitled to them, university grants not getting processed, streets not getting cleaned, EU emissions limits not been adhered to, and so on.
We have already seen several examples of Environment Minister Phil Hogan’s rather indifferent approach to how he deals with his brief. He is not only not getting things done, he is rolling back on much of the good work done by the Greens in government. The unfortunate end result is that the environment is the loser. We have learned in the past week that Ireland’s Nitogen Oxide emissions through 2010-2011 exceeded EU targets. We are failing to meet the MINIMUM targets set by the EU for Irish air quality. Not only are we setting ourselves up for hefty fines, we are endangering the lives of many by not maintaining good air quality.
In pursuing an austerity programme this government can always say that it is only doing what must be done, what the Troika has told use must be done. However, not doing certain things, such as maintaining a clean environment, is going to cost us more in the end both in fines and in the negative impact on our health.