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Haughey said to prioritise the environment and not development.
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Haughey said to prioritise the environment and not development.

Haughey told to prioritise development, not environment

The next taoiseach Charles Haughey quickly established the Environmental Protection Agency in 1990. However, the most vehement opposition to the new agency came from an unlikely quarter: the most senior civil servant of his department.

Haughey, as well as Pdraig Flinn, the minister for the environment, supported the new agency. The Mayo politician insists that it have broad-ranging powers of enforcement, prosecution, and both.

The Department of Finance strongly opposed its proposed staffing of 133, and its annual budget of 7 millions. This was at a time when government was cutting the number of public employees.

Flynns plan was resisted fiercely by Dermot Naylor, a long-serving secretary général of the Department of An Taoiseach.

Nally, a civil servant, wrote a strongly worded note to Haughey days before the government decision. He called the EPA Bill unacceptable. Nally also said that it would add to the bureaucracy.

These files are part of confidential government records which have been transferred to National Archive. They will now be open for public inspection.

Nally argued in a memo to Haughey that the EPA would act disincentively to encourage industry to locate in Ireland in October 1990.

It is a worthy goal to protect the environment. However, if it becomes obsessive, then development will cease. We can also forget about more jobs since the firms and services that provide these jobs will not expand or set up for environmental reasons.

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