Speaking at an anti-fracking seminar in Sligo today, Sinn Féin MEP candidate for the Midlands North West, Matt Carthy, has pledged his support for the campaign to prevent fracking in Ireland.
Cllr. Carthy is attending a seminar organised by Uisce Domhain Ltd, a water quality and environment protection organisation, on the subject of “Shale Gas and County Development Plans”.
“Sinn Féin remains opposed to proposals for fracking in the Lough Allen Basin and elsewhere in Ireland. We are standing up for communities concerned about the potential damage to the environment, to tourism and to the farming sector.
“Hydraulic fracturing involves drilling at a depth below ground water level; a practice which many experts believe can cause contamination to drinking water supplies. There are also serious concerns about the potential damage to farmland affected by contaminated ground water and to public health from polluted drinking water.
“Sinn Féin has been vocal on this issue in the Dáil and in the European Parliament. I commend my party colleague Michael Colreavy TD for bringing forward legislation which if enacted would ban fracking. I also commend Sinn Féin’s MEP for the North, Martina Anderson, who voted in favour of Environmental Impact Assessments being extended to the exploration and extraction of shale gas, though unfortunately the majority of MEPs failed to support this important move.
“Fracking has been an issue of grave concern, especially in Leitrim, Sligo and Fermanagh, for communities near the Lough Allen Basin. These concerns need to be listened to. Fine Gael and Labour representatives need to listen to the people. They are in government and are in a position to ban fracking. They have been running away from this issue and need to be held to account.
“County Development Plans are an important vehicle to place in policy the concerns of residents of local areas. A number of councils have included provisions to ban, or heavily curtail the prospect of, fracking within their development plans. Monaghan County Council has such a provision, inserted in 2012 at my proposal. In the interests of local democracy and best planning practice it is imperative that when such policies are adopted by local authorities that these decisions be respected and enforced by government and statutory agencies.
“We only have to look to America to see the potential dangers of not closely regulating shale gas operations. The voices of the local communities who live near these potential drilling sites and who are therefore more at risk of the negative consequences must be listened to.”