The Green Party has been strongly criticised by a coalition of environmental groups for allowing the National Parks and Wildlife Service to come under the remit of the Department of Housing.

Birdwatch Ireland, An Taisce, the Wildlife Trust, and Friends of the Earth all expressed "disbelief" that the responsibility for nature and biodiversity did not go to the Department of the Environment.

Oonagh Duggan of BirdWatch Ireland said: "We are shocked by the proposal. We're calling on the government and particularly Green Party cabinet members to ... not give nature away."

Pádraig Fogarty of Irish Wildlife Trust said: "We are extremely disappointed that this new 'green' Government has missed a golden opportunity to unite responsibility for water, biodiversity and climate in the same department."

Oisín Coghlan of Friends of the Earth said: "It beggars belief that the first thing Eamon Ryan and Catherine Martin plan to do as they get their feet under the Cabinet table is abolish the Department of the Environment and give away responsibility for nature to a department whose primary role is to facilitate builders and developers."

Sinn Féin housing spokesperson Eoin Ó Broin described the announcement as "a crazy decision".

He said on Twitter: "Natural heritage does not belong in the Department of Housing. Built heritage & architecture policy sure but natural heritage belongs in Dept of Climate."