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Housing Minister Darragh O'Brien has authorised a cull of three seagull breeds in Balbriggan. Under the directive, "any individual" can remove seagull nests or eggs that "represent a threat to public health and safety; are likely to cause serious damage to crops or to livestock or are likely to cause damage to flora and fauna."

The directive against the Herring Gull, Greater Black-backed Gull and Lesser Black-backed Gull is valid from August 1 this year to April 30 next year. However, the new policy appears to contravene EU directives which mean it is illegal to kill gulls or destroy their nests because they are a protected species.

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The decision, signed off by the Minister in July, allow officials, under a permit, to take and destroy the nests or eggs of the herring gull, the greater black-backed gull and the lesser black-backed gull from August until the end of April. The order allows people to deal with gulls on private properties but it is not clear yet whether a State agency or the local authority will carry out a more general campaign of destruction.

BirdWatch Ireland has condemned as a breach of European Union law a decision by the Minister for Housing to approve the removal and destruction of seagull eggs in Balbriggan, north Co Dublin. BirdWatch Ireland, said it believes the decision is in breach of an EU directive because the State has not complied with strict tests required to allow derogations from the law that protects wild birds during the breeding and rearing of chicks.

The group said it had “compassion for any person impacted negatively by breeding herring gulls during the short period when they are acting as protective parents” and that it fully supported “proper implementation of the derogation to the letter of the law”.