It would appear that the fracking debate in Sligo and the Northwest has been 'notched up a gear' with a government minister facing protesters for the first time since the controversy became public.
Sligo éirígí activist Gerry Casey has re-iterated the party's continued opposition to the giveaway of the nation's natural resources. He also expressed support for calls to ban the process of extracting natural gas called hydraulic fracturing, also known as 'fracking'.
Casey was speaking following a protest on Saturday night (September 17) outside the Sligo Park Hotel where the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Pat Rabbitte was attending a function to celebrate the 175th anniversary of the Sligo Champion.
Approximately 50 protesters braved the heavy rain to make their concerns known to the Minister. They made clear their total opposition to fracking and called on the Minister to impose an immediate ban on its use in Ireland similar to bans imposed in other countries and in some states in the USA.
Speaking following the protest, éirígí Sligeach activist Gerry Casey who was among the demonstrators, said, "An immediate halt must be called to this entire process. Despite paying lip service to it, there has been no meaningful consultation by the Dublin government or by Tamboran with the communities set to be affected by this exploration and extraction of natural gas despite the massive dangers involved. More importantly the communities affected have not given their consent for it."
He added: "Once again éirígí supports the call for the process known as fracking to be banned. The potential for grave environmental damage and the dangers posed to human and animal health and safety are too great and cannot be ignored. The health and safety of the people of the region must be put before the quest to amass profits by private exploration companies."
Casey also called for the nationalisation of all our natural resources. He said, "The decision by Pat Rabbitte and his colleagues in the Fine Gael/Labour coalition to continue with the shameful policy of giving away valuable natural resources begun by Fianna Fáil can only be described as despicable. These resources, whether the Corrib gas off the Mayo coast or the onshore gas in the Lough Allen and Clare basins, should be taken into public ownership. If, and only if, those resources can be safely extracted without damage to our environment and to health and safety then the wealth created should be used to benefit the people of Ireland not the shareholders of private exploration companies."
Casey concluded: "Let Tamboran Resources as well as Pat Rabbitte and his colleagues be fully aware that the people of this region will not roll over and accept the current situation. If they ignore the massive opposition that there is within this region to this process, then just as Shell and the Dublin government discovered in north Mayo over the past decade, they too will meet fierce and determined resistance here."
Anti-fracking protesters outside the Sligo Park Hotel on Sat 17 Sept where
Minister Pat Rabbitte was attending a private function