‘Open season’ on hen harriers: how to complain about the councillor

Limerick Leaderlow resYesterday we reported on an article in the Limerick Leader that quoted Limerick Council Chair John Sheahan calling for an ‘open season’ on the specially protected hen harrier (see here).

That blog post has attracted a great deal of attention and understandably, people are both astonished and outraged that someone in a position of such influence and responsibility should be inciting people to commit wildlife crime and encouraging the illegal killing of hen harriers.

Incredibly, it emerged later in the day that Cllr Sheahan is not only the Chair of Limerick Council, but that he also represents Ireland at the EU Committee of the Regions, helping to form EU policies on environment and biodiversity issues!!! (See here).

Yesterday was quite frustrating in that we had great difficulty trying to find out how to make a formal complaint about Cllr Sheahan’s remarks. We know through our site stats that many of you (over 100) emailed Cllr Sheahan directly and we also know that the Minister for Agriculture, Simon Coveney, also received an avalanche of emails (he is the Minister that Cllr Sheahan intends to lobby about the hen harrier), so thank you to everyone who sent emails.

Since then, we have received more advice on who to complain to (thank you to blog reader Ryan Meade for the information). We would encourage as many of you as possible to send emails to the following two people, to formally complain about Cllr Sheahan’s comments. Obviously, these people should respond to just a single complaint but they are much more likely to take this issue seriously if they are inundated with complaints.

For those of you who don’t live in Ireland, please don’t think that Cllr Sheahan’s comments don’t affect hen harriers in the UK. Movements of hen harriers between Ireland and the UK have been well documented (see here for example), so what happens to hen harriers in Ireland will also have an effect on what happens to hen harriers in the UK, and vice versa.

Here’s some background info on the hen harrier for those who want to include it to back up your complaint:

The hen harrier is a species of high conservation concern in Ireland and the UK and is protected regionally under The Wildlife Act 1976 & Amendment Act 2000 and in Northern Ireland under The Wildlife (Northern Ireland) Order 1985. Hen harriers are listed on Annex 1 of the Birds Directive (2009/147/EEC) and are currently considered an All-Ireland Species of Conservation Concern and a UK priority species.

The EU Birds Directive provides a legislative framework of measures required for assessing and ensuring the conservation of the hen harrier which includes monitoring, research and the designation of Special Protection Areas (SPAs). Six sites have been designated as SPAs for hen harriers in Ireland:

The Slieve Bloom Mountains SPA (Counties Laois & Offaly; Site Code 4160);

The Stacks to Mullaghareirk Mountains SPA, West Limerick Hills and Mount Eagle SPA (Counties Cork, Kerry & Limerick; Site Code: 4161);

The Mullaghanish to Musheramore Mountains SPA (CountyCork; Site Code: 4162);

The Slievefelim to Silvermines Mountains SPA (Counties Limerick & Tipperary; Site Code: 4165);

Slieve Beagh SPA (CountyMonaghan; Site Code 4167);

The Slieve Aughty Mountains SPA (Counties Clare & Galway; Site Code 4168).

The first person to formally complain to is Conn Murray, who is the Limerick County Council Senior Manager (see here). His email address: conn.murray@limerick.ie. Conn Murray should be called to investigate Cllr Sheahan’s comments and to assess whether he is suitable to continue holding office as the Chair of Limerick Council.

The second person to formally complain to is Jimmy Deenihan, who is the Minister for Arts, Heritage and Gaeltacht. His remit includes the protection of wildlife (see here) and he should be very interested in Cllr Sheahan’s views on hen harriers and how those views might affect his role representing Ireland at the EU on biodiversity and environmental issues. His email address: jimmy.deenihan@oir.ie

We also think that Cllr Sheahan should be the subject of a police investigation for inciting wildlife crime. However, it appears that reporting an allegation to the Garda (police) is restricted to those who can call or visit the relevant local station (see here). We hope that some locals will pursue this.

Thanks, everyone.

UPDATE: A petition has been started calling for the resignation of Cllr Sheahan: http://www.thepetitionsite.com/takeaction/358/804/673/

6 Responses to “‘Open season’ on hen harriers: how to complain about the councillor”

  1. 1 liz Jones
    July 24, 2013 at 7:33 pm

    I was horrified to read this blog, I will certainly be emailing the two ministers. Councillor Sheahan has to be stopped…

  2. July 24, 2013 at 10:22 pm

    A petition has been started calling for the resignation of Cllr Sheahan:


  3. 3 Rob
    July 25, 2013 at 4:12 pm

    Well I signed the petition but had also emailed Councillor Sheahan directly. He has responded but the attachment he’s returned doesn’t open and is a .dat file!

    [Ed: Hi Rob, we have a (readable) copy – it’ll be posted on the blog later this evening. Cheers.]

  4. 4 john keogh
    July 25, 2013 at 7:31 pm

    he has his head up his arse.just leave it alone you mowler.

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