In December, the Donegal County Council in Ireland voted unanimously to adopt the Rights of Nature as “an important statement of intention that imbeds the concept as a core value and a keystone concept.” 

“It is not a legal construct,” according to Sinn Féin councillor Albert Doherty, who introduced the measure — meaning the action wields no legal authority.

In a sane culture, there would be no need for legally codified Rights for Nature. But Ireland, like much of the world, suffers the legacy of the British Empire, which robbed the people and the land of their kinship and replaced interdependence as a core value with the rule of property, aristocratic privilege, and human supremacy.

It is good news that after centuries of exploitation, subjugation, clear-cutting, coal mining, ecocide and genocide by the Empire, a return to pre-enclosure, pre-privatization common sense is being entertained. However, after so long a history of coerced separation from nature’s kinship — through official policy on the island — we can hope for more. Instead of affirmations and aspirations, Ireland needs an enforceable law that holds violators of nature’s rights accountable. Now, that would be something to celebrate.

Photo by K. Mitch Hodge on Unsplash

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