The Government has defended the arrangements of a public meeting on climate change, despite complaints that the public was not told where or when it was taking place.
Branded as a town hall-style meeting promoting the Government’s new climate plan, the event was attended by 200 people in UCC’s Devere Hall on Friday.
However, it was criticised by some members of the public, who said they were not informed of details of the meeting, which the Environment Department said was organised to “hear from local communities” on climate change.
A spokesperson from the department defended the event, the first in a series promoting its climate plan, saying: “A very engaging discussion took place and many alternative voices were heard during the course of the meeting.
“All members of the public were welcome to attend, and, indeed, many did. Notification was issued to several stakeholder groups, with a request to notify their networks of the event, including Irish rural Link, Union of Students Ireland, tidy towns, ECO Unesco, Cork GAA, the IFA, Friends of the Earth, and UCC.”
A Government source said: “No member of the public was refused entry to the event, but we will consider how best to get the word out there better for the next one.
Notification could only issue after the plan was approved on Monday, so that made the turnaround for the first one a bit tight.
A press release sent out by Environment Minister Richard Bruton’s office the day before the event did not include a time or location, and his office initially said it was invitation-only, before officials said it was happening in UCC.
One attendee, Tom Baldwin, a retired ESB employee who worked in the energy business for 50 years, said he “felt somewhat like a character from the TV show Magnum PI, trying to find out details of the meeting.
“I called several people, none of whom seemed to know,” said Mr Baldwin.
“When I eventually found out it was in UCC, about a dozen people I passed on the way didn’t seem to know exactly where on the campus it was on.
“Maybe they were afraid people would only be coming to protest, but everyone should have the information. I got there and was surprised there were so many there, given that it had not been advertised.
“Looking at the sign-in sheets at the event, it looked like there were only a handful like me, who found it by accident or searched out the info.”