NI comedian takes on Stormont in series of 'Green Wash' comedy sketches
NI comedian Nuala McKeever has Stormont’s environment failings firmly in her sights in her new comedy sketch series.
The Hole in the Wall Gang veteran has joined forces with Friends of the Earth NI in their call for an independent environment agency to tackle authorities not working to protect our biodiversity and nature.
‘Green Wash’ with Nuala McKeever tackles everything from the lack of government/council oversight and enforcement to ‘gas to the west’, the loss of greenspace along the Lagan, sewage pollution and the perception Northern Ireland has been put up for sale.
An independent environment agency was promised as part of the New Decade, New Approach deal that got MLAs back to work in 2020.
But Environment and Agriculture Minister Edwin Poots refused so the promise has still not been delivered.
And the South Belfast woman is “scundered” as she says communities are being let down as a result.
Nuala told Belfast Live: “The fact that our Minister for the Environment is the same person as the Minister for Agriculture which is one of the biggest polluters of the environment - I mean hello!
“The whole thing about the trees at Stranmillis happened and like so many people, I was in tears.
“They were just cut down with really no warning to anybody.
“For people who are affected there’s an awful lot of patronising and riding roughshod,” she added.
“Ordinary people shouldn’t have to be experts which is why we need experts - we need an independent organisation that will speak on behalf of the environment.
“When I ended up doing these videos, I said ‘how do I approach this?’ I said to them [Friends of the Earth NI] when I read the stuff they sent me and I tell other people - most of the reaction is just ‘are you serious?!’
“When you make jokes, quite often you are on the edge and quite often I’ve to pull lines out... but in the end up I said ‘just the bare facts are ridiculous and horrendous and absurd enough’.
“I’ve just done one with that lovely character Jim Hardman, the builder. It’s about Cloghan Point where there’s proposals for a massive oil distribution centre.
“Again, you don’t have to make anything up you just sort of quote what the developers say - 300 lorry journeys in and out - nobody will notice.
“That’s where they [the sketches] came from and there’s more being planned.
“I did one about Lough Neagh and the sand - as an old aristocratic woman [saying] ‘of course we care about the environment, after all we own most of it’.
“The bottom line is, there’s always going to be people who behave as badly or extremely as the law will allow them.
“There needs to be law then and there needs to be regulation.
“It was like the time of Covid when some Tory said ‘I think we can rely on British people to use their common sense’ beside this huge photograph of a guy who stuck two Mars bars up his nostrils.
“That just about says it all,” added the 57-year-old.
“For some people life is about making as much money as possible, sod the consequences.
“The big thrust of these is a [call for] an independent environmental agency.
“To paraphrase John F Kennedy: Ask not what your Earth can do for you, ask what you can do for your Earth.”
Friends of the Earth NI director James Orr outlined why it's so important we see action on the issue in the charity's 10 point plan to prevent Northern Ireland becoming the dirty corner of Europe.
Since 2018, just one thing on that wish list of much needed changes has been delivered - a climate change act for Northern Ireland.
“In environmental terms Northern Ireland has gone rogue and that’s why the biggest priority for Friends of the Earth after this election is to establish an independent Environmental Protection Agency.
“Only a body outside the control of a Minister can enforce against government departments and government owned companies such as NI Water.
“We know we have dirty secrets in relation to sewage pollution, ammonia pollution and the impacts on public health.
“There is also a convincing argument that recent scandals such as RHI, RoCs payments to unauthorised turbines, Lough Neagh dredging, unlawful quarries, Woodburn drilling and the breakdown of trust in the planning system could been avoided if we had an independent protector that fearlessly stood up to the systemic failures in many government departments when it comes to the environment.
“We are also faced with the colossal threats from global mining companies and growing evidence of ecosystem collapse,” he added. “We just don’t want any agency – it must be bold, fearless, well-resourced and most importantly, one that is defined by a leadership that is not afraid to challenge the current system.”
Click here to watch Green Wash with Nuala McKeever.
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