The only option is no fracking - Phil Flanagan
Éire - Ireland. Known as the land of saints and scholars, the emerald isle. Known as a clean, green country.
Or if Arlene Foster, Pat Rabitte and some others get their way, soon to be known as the global centre for the extraction of non-conventional gas and oil.
That’s quite a mouthful.
Ach sin an rud atá i gceist
Not only does it sound harsh and sound like a bad word. It is harsh, and by God is it bad.
In the run up to the 2011 general election, on 14th February 2011, one of Conor Lenihan’s last acts as a Fianna Fáil Minister, in a collapsing government, was to grant licence options to two companies to explore for non-conventional hydrocarbons on what is known as the Lough Allen Basin.
What a Valentine’s present that has turned out to be for the good people of Leitrim.
And in a remarkable show of cross-border co-operation, the DUP’s Arlene Foster, in one of her last acts as Minister before an election, oversaw the awarding of exclusive exploration and extraction licences to the same outfit in West Fermanagh.
If only she would engage in such pragmatic cross-border co-operation in the fields of telecommunications, job creation, tourism promotion or in attracting foreign direct investment, our economy wouldn’t be in the shape it is today.
You’d think after being exposed the first time, no Minister would ever engage in such underhand and sneaky behaviour again.
But fast forward to Easter Week of 2013 and hidden away in a small corner of the Irish News was an advertisement indicating that Arlene’s department intends to grant a prospecting licence in five more northern counties.
No mention of shale gas or shale oil in the advert.
In fact, no mention of gas or oil at all.
No mention of fracking.
Not one person was notified that this was on the cards.
And we have to wonder why?
Because Arlene Foster and those intent on forcing fracking onto our communities know that the majority of people here don’t want a bit of it.
So they decide to ignore the evidence, which shows how dangerous and damaging it is.
They stifle debate and label those of us who rightly oppose fracking as being involved in scaremongering.
And this coming from a party that believes the earth is only six thousand years old.
If that were the case, I’d love to hear how we have fossil fuels in the first place or do they think we can just wait for more to be produced.
Sinn Féin want to see a sensible debate on the issue of fracking looking at all the concerns that people have.
Ba fhearr linn dá mbeadh díospóireacht ciallmhar ann ar fúd na tíre ar fracking.
We are confident that if that debate took place then the people of Ireland would overwhelmingly reject the proposals for fracking to take place.
For that reason, we will, in the next short while, bring forward proposals to set out that Fermanagh District Council carry out a referendum across the county to let the people have their say on the issue of fracking.
But let me be very clear about one thing. There is no such thing as safe fracking. The only option is no fracking.