THE CURRENT economic downturn must not be used to neglect the preservation of our environmental heritage, president of the environmental body An Taisce has warned.
Eanna Ní Lamhna, speaking at a special service in St Patrick's Cathedral, Dublin, yesterday to celebrate the organisation's 60th anniversary, said there was much it had to be proud of, but challenges lay ahead.
"As we approach somewhat more difficult times, we must ensure that environmental concerns are not sidelined by Government due to financial constrictions. We have worked hard to place the issue of conservation high on the public agenda.
"We owe it to those gone by not to return to a day when there was little public support for or understanding of conservation and environmental issues."
Referring to those whom she said implied there was something unpatriotic or un-Irish about some of An Taisce's activities - notably its opposition to uncontrolled development in rural settings - she said there was "nothing more Irish" than seeking to protect the environment.
She continued: "Many Irish men and women have given so much to our organisation, spurred on by national pride, and a sense of civic duty.
"Among them were three of our former presidents - Eamon de Valera, Cearbhall Ó Dálaigh and Mary Robinson - all of whom were members of An Taisce.
"All three felt it was their duty as Irish citizens to protect our environment and saw that membership of our association was the way to ensure that this happened," she said.
The congregation of about 300 was welcomed to St Patrick's Cathedral by the Dean, the Very Revd Dr RB MacCarthy, who said there was a natural link between Christianity and caring for the environment.
Hymns with an environmental focus were sung and there were readings given by Patrick Casement, chairman of the National Trust, Northern Ireland, and by John Ducie, president of the European Network of National Heritage Organisations.
At a ceremony held later in the day in An Taisce's headquarters, in nearby Tailor's Hall, Christchurch, honorary life memberships were awarded to a number of the organisation's longstanding members.
The Irish Times