Thursday 28 June 2007

Interference in environmental issues angers 'light green' society

Resentment of the interference of Government and big corporations in environmental issues is contributing to a sense of frustration and a lack of trust across all sections of Irish societies, a major new study has concluded.
The study, carried out by the Environmental Protection Agency, sought to draw on a cross-section of Irish society and included environmental activists, civil servants, teachers, large and small farmers, commuters, business people and the unemployed.
The findings are contained in Environmental Debates and the Public in Ireland , one of two books launched yesterday by the Institute of Public Administration.
Author Mary Kelly, a senior lecturer in sociology at University College, Dublin, said there was real sense of anger and disempowerment among local people on issues such as roads, incinerators and commercial projects like the Corrib gas pipeline.
"It was a discourse which pitted 'us', the 'little people', against 'them', 'the big boys', 'the money', especially used to characterise perceived alliances between political and economic interest groups," she said.
Ms Kelly said environmental awareness was becoming more mainstream in the last 15 years, but was surprisingly less prevalent among the under-25s than any other age group. Most people were now "light green", favouring both economic progress and environmental protection.
In Environmentalism in Ireland: Movement and Activists , author Hilary Tovey said the majority of those involved in the environmental movement are from families with a strong tradition of civic involvement. They are usually of a left-wing persuasion but not necessary from a middle-class background, she added.

Ronan McGreevy
© Irish Times

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