Irish politician wants to call in army to combat 'aggressive' rhododendrons

By Daniel Uria  |  Feb. 22, 2017 at 4:14 PM
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Feb. 22 (UPI) -- An Irish politician asked parliament to enlist the army's help in battling the spread of an "aggressive" variety of plant.

County Kerry politician Michael Healy-Rae said the spread of rhododendron shrubs has become so rampant that the help of the Irish Army would be necessary to provide enough resources to combat it.

"People are inclined to think that when it comes to a national park, that you close the gates and let it off. That you don't maintain the deer population. You don't aggressively attack the rhododendrons," he said. "The rhododendron situation in Killarney National Park is gone so bad, Minister, nothing short of calling in the army is going to put it right."

Healy-Rae said the park was neglected, "losing the war" against the overgrown rhododendrons, which can grow taller than 25 feet.

He added that the plants had begun "taking over completely, despite programs of work over the years to cut them."

Regional Economic Development Minister Michael Ring disputed Healy-Rae's statement that the park had been neglected, noting more than 700,000 euros ($740,068) had been spent on clearing rhododendrons in the park in the past six years.

"My department has invested heavily in tackling this invasive species, the control of which is difficult, costly and labor-intensive," Ring said.

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