A major new alliance to push for better air quality was launched in Dublin this afternoon – amid a spirited row between environmentalist Duncan Stewart and Minister for Environment Phil Hogan.
Chief executive of the Asthma Society of Ireland Sharon Cosgrove took the chair to launch the new alliance, to be known as Inhale, which she said was being formed to achieve better outcomes for more than half million people who suffered from asthma – a feature which she said was costing the State some €533million per year.
Other backers of the new alliance introduced by Ms Cosgrove included respiratory consultants, professors Stephen Lane and Luke Clancy ; Professor and researcher Pat Goodman of DIT; An Taisce’s policy director James Nix and broadcaster and environmentalist Duncan Stewart.
Speaking as he arrived from a Cabinet meeting Mr Hogan paid tribute to former minister Mary Harney for the ban on smokey coal – which he said was being extended to towns with a population above 15,000. He said he had reached agreement with the Northern authorities to consider over the next three years, an all-Ireland ban on smokey coal.
Mr Hogan also said he had chosen air quality as a priority for Ireland’s EU presidency and substantial progress was being made in discussions with the EU Commission on this policy.