All but two of Ireland’s 13 MEPs backed the Nature Restoration Law in a key vote in the European Parliament today (Tuesday, February 27).

The vote was held this morning, with 329 MEPs voting in favour, and 275 voting against (with 11 Irish MEPs voting for the former outcome, and two for the latter).

No Irish MEPs were among the 24 who abstained from voting.

The two Irish MEPs who voted against the law were Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan and Chris MacManus, both of whom are part of The Left group in the European Parliament (Flanagan as an independent and MacManus as a member of Sinn Féin, which is a member party of the The Left).

The Irish MEPs who supported the law included all five Fine Gael TDs (Deirdre Clune, Frances Fitzgerald, Seán Kelly, Colm Markey, and Maria Walsh) who backed the law despite the European Peoples Party (EPP) – the parliament’s largest grouping and the one which Fine Gael is a member of – calling for a no vote.

The other six Irish MEPs who voted in favour were: Barry Andrews and Billy Kelleher (both Fianna Fáil); Ciarán Cuffe and Grace O’ Sullivan (both Green Party); and Clare Daly and Mick Wallace (both Independents for Change).

One of those MEPs, Mick Wallace, said: “It is a relief to have finally gotten this regulation over the line in the parliament”, and claimed that it is “a good day for farmers”.

However, Wallace said he was disappointed by what he called the “watering down” of the ambition of the regulation.

Meanwhile, responding to the result of the vote, Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) president Francie Gorman claimed that a “vacuum of information” still exists around the Nature Restoration Law, and the outcome of the vote highlights what he said are “genuine concerns” about it.

“Even though legitimate farmer concerns have not been adequately addressed the EU pushed ahead with the introduction of the Nature Restoration Law,” Gorman said.

“This will not reassure farmers about the impact of the NRL,” he added.

According to Gorman, the issues with the law include “a lack of clarity on the requirements and impact of certain definitions; uncertainty on the potential impact on farmland and production; and lack of dedicated funding to support the implementation of the regulation”.

The IFA president believes that recent protests across Europe emphasised the frustration of some farmers in relation to legislation and legislative proposals, which he said “do not reflect the true environmental, economic and social sustainability impact on EU food producers”.