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Welcome progress of All Ireland energy market

12 March, 2004

Sinn Fein Economy Spokesperson, Fermanagh South Tyrone MP Michelle Gildernew MLA has welcomed today's meeting between NIO Minster Ian Pearson and Irish Minister Dermott Ahern with a Forum including representatives of the

energy industry and regulatory authorities in Drogheda to discuss the creation of a single energy market on the island of Ireland.

Ms Gildernew said:

"This meeting is an important step in the creation of a single energy market on the island of Ireland. I welcome the focus on creating a clear strategic vision on the way forward. It is vital that we address the need for greater harmonisation.

"We need to ensure that the high energy costs faced particularly by businesses in the Six Counties are addressed and that progress in creating a single energy market drives down costs that were created by the very poor privatisation deal brokered by the British government in 1994 that established a private sector monopoly. Any progress must include looking at a renegotiation of the current NIE contract when it expires in 2007.

"Sinn Fein believe that there is a strong argument for the creation of an All Ireland Energy Implementation Body to take forward the development of a single energy market.

"As an island we need to ensure that we move away from dependence on external oil supplies and embrace the potential of domestic and alternative energy forms. We also need to bring a focus on managing our natural resources such as the gas supplies in Leitrim, Corrib and Fermanagh for the benefit of local communities and the Irish economy.

"In particular the development of a strategic plan for renewable energy would not only allow Ireland to comply with the Kyoto protocol but also to develop alternative energy sources such as biomass, wind, wave and solar power.

"We also need to develop a meaningful anti-fuel poverty programme and to promote energy-efficient housing and building design." ENDS

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