Taoiseach Micheál Martin has defended comments he made regarding An Taisce, in which he said he hoped the National Trust would not appeal a decision by the High Court to allow planning permission for a Glanbia cheese factory in south Kilkenny.

He told the Dáil that politicians were entitled to make comments on planning matters.

The Taoiseach was replying to a question from Social Democrats TD Holly Cairns, who accused him of pitting environmentalists against farmers in his approach.

She asked him to explain how he believed that increasing the size of the national herd was a "positive step" in the context of climate action.

The Taoiseach replied that the Government's climate bill was a "landmark" piece of legislation, adding that: "I want to bring people with us."

Earlier, Minister for Children Roderic O'Gorman said that An Taisce is best placed to decide whether to pursue the appeal against the plant.

Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland, Mr O'Gorman said that An Taisce has a long track record in securing compliance with environmental standards and are best placed to decide if they will continue with the appeal.

The Green Party minister said it is "best for legal processes to play out" and that "politicians should leave them to play out".

Previously, the Taoiseach said that An Taisce should cease its objections to a decision by An Bord Pleanála to grant planning permission for the development of the €140m plant.

Mr Martin said he hoped An Taisce would not appeal a decision by the High Court to allow planning permission for a Glanbia cheese factory in south Kilkenny.

He said the court had ruled clearly on the matter and the plant was important to the region and to the dairy industry.

Yesterday, the Green Party's planning spokesperson Steven Matthews said he was disappointed by the Taoiseach's comments about An Taisce.

Mr Matthews said An Taisce is required to make submissions on certain planning applications and it would be preferable if politicians did not cast judgement on live planning matters.

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