154 GE16 CANDIDATES SIGN THE PLEDGE AGAINST FRACKING

…and counting

The “Sign the Pledge” campaign, coordinated by Fracking Free Network, is a big success.  154 candidates in this year’s General Election have so far personally signed the pledge against fracking!  From all parties and from all constituencies, candidates have committed to support legislation that will ban fracking in Ireland. There is no doubt that the issue of fracking is now a national rather than a local issue.  Candidates from Cork and Kerry, from Donegal and Dublin, from Galway and Wexford have indicated that they will work to ensure that fracking will never be introduced to Ireland.

However, the response of the major parties has been disappointing.  Two out of the three Fine Gael candidates from Sligo-Leitrim, Tony McLoughlin and John Perry, signed the pledge.  (Gerry Reynolds, the 3rd FG candidate, didn’t sign.) However, no other FG candidates nationally have signed.  Only 14 Fianna Fáil candidates have signed the pledge despite supporting a ban on fracking in their Energy Paper last year.  And only 16 candidates from Sinn Féin have signed so far despite their public opposition to fracking.

“It was the smaller parties and independents who gave us this amazing result”, said Jamie Murphy, from Fracking Free Network.  “The Green Party and Anti Austerity/People Before Profit parties gave wholehearted support to the pledge, as did many Independents.  It is very worrying that the major parties, who are likely to form the next government, still will not commit to supporting legislation to ban fracking.”

The “Sign the Pledge” campaign continues until Thursday evening (votefrackfree.org).  Even at this stage, candidates are being contacted and urged to sign the pledge.  “It’s very clear that our work is not over”, Jamie concluded. “The campaign against fracking must continue, after the election it will focus on getting legislation to ban fracking passed by our future government.”

DEBATE ON N.I. FRACKING PREVENTED

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The 12 candidates answer questions from the floor

Candidates from all parties sign the pledge

Twelve candidates attended a Hustings event in Manorhamilton on Saturday 13th organised by Love Leitrim.  All twelve from different parties and independents signed the pledge that they would support legislation to ban fracking in Ireland and confirmed that commitment at the meeting.  This support included Fianna Fáil, Sinn Féin, Fine Gael, Labour, Greens, People Before Profit and Independents.

Meeting disrupted before questions could be asked about NI drilling

However, the greatest threat to Ireland from fracking at present, the proposal to commence drilling in North Belfast this week, was not even mentioned or discussed.  Before this subject could be introduced, the meeting was completely disrupted by a small group who refused to allow the discussion to continue.  The Chairman, Johnny Gogan, had to close the meeting prematurely and it ended in disarray.

“I am very upset that a small number of protesters seem to consider public meetings to be an opportunity for anarchic disturbances for their own sake”, said Dr Aedín McLoughlin Director of GEAI.  “We were there as members of the campaign against fracking, and it was our intention to bring up the Belfast threat, which is really serious and is not getting the attention it deserves.  People don’t realise the danger – Infrastrata, an oil/gas company, has issued leaflets to all houses nearby that they intend to come on site in Woodburn Forest this week and start drilling an exploratory well over a mile deep, exactly as Tamboran proposed in Belcoo.  The site is 400 yards from a water reservoir serving 2,000 houses in Carrick-on-Fergus and North Belfast.

Yet there is little publicity around this.  One candidate I spoke to after the meeting was not even aware of this proposal.  Sinn Féin, who are an all-island party, have not issued any public statement in Leitrim on the situation and in the North, have not issued any statement of concern at the Stormont Assembly.  At our meeting, they kept referring to their Party policy as opposing fracking.  Is this policy only South of the border?

Infrastrata (the oil/gas company) say that this well will not be fracked.  This is quite possible – it is an exploratory well.  However, if they find oil or gas, there is absolutely no guarantee that fracking will not commence – and hundreds of wells could be fracked.  In addition, this drilling is due to start without a Waste Treatment Plan in place.  Why is the Northern Ireland government not stepping in, as it did with Tamboran?  Why are the main political parties not preventing the drill?  All these questions should have been asked at the Hustings but unfortunately, were prevented from so doing.”

 

Stop the Study Campaign – What happened?

Recipe for a successful campaign: focussed, multi-faceted approach!

GEAI, together with other campaigners against fracking, was involved in a series of actions to raise national awareness of the current situation around the EPA Research Study on fracking and to put pressure on government to address policy on this issue.

On 8th September, a delegation from the Environmental Pillar, including our Director, Aedín McLoughlin, met the EPA.  During the course of the meeting, a progress report on the Research Study on Fracking was given to the delegation which showed clearly that the Study is being led and largely carried out by CDM Smith and Amec, both service providers to the oil and gas industry.  Queen’s University, which underpinned the independence of the study, was stated not to be part of the research consortium (also such was maintained).

Given this information, GEAI decided to initiate the “Stop the Study” campaign.  Campaign activities took place from September to December and included:

  • September – December: Social media campaign, including Facebook, Twitter, Emails, Petition, press releases, radio interviews, letter-writing and personal contacts.  Local TDs and members of JOC on Communications were specifically targeted as well as others.
  • 17th September: Organisation of a public meeting in North Leitrim, attended by over 100 people and widely reported.
  • 5th November: Rally outside Leinster House attended by GEAI, FOE, Northwest campaigners, No Fracking Dublin and others.
  • 5th November: Meeting in Leinster House AV Room where presentations were made by GEAI, FOE, Green Party and Love Leitrim to TDs, Senators, MEPs and others.
  • 29th November: Attendance at Climate March in Dublin.  GEAI hosted Julia Walsh, a lead campaigner from Frack Action New York who spoke at the March.  After the march, we attended a meeting of People Before Profit to brief them on fracking and impacts on health.
  • 2nd December: EPA was brought before Joint Oireachtas Committee meeting.  During 3 hours questioning, EPA admitted that the Research Study would not tell us if fracking can be done safely.
  • 2nd December: Attended meeting of Young FOE, gave presentation on the campaign.
  • 15th December:  Junior Minister Joe McHugh said during Dáil Debates that an Interim Report from the Research Study would be produced by the end of January.  No on-land water and seismic studies will proceed until this report is considered.
  • 17th December:  Richard Boyd Barrett TD introduced a Bill to ban fracking in Ireland.  This Bill was largely written by Kate Ruddock (FOE) and Assumpta O’Broin (An Taisce).
Results of campaign. 
  • Huge awareness-raising, especially in Dublin.
  • Oireachtas made aware that all was not right with EPA Research Study.
  • Many Dail questions put to Minister and Junior Minister.
  • Interim report on Research Study now requested from Steering Committee by end January.
  • On-the-ground water and seismic studies delayed until after publication.
  • Study effectively at a standstill.
  • Bill to prohibit fracking in Ireland introduced. This will keep the issue in the public eye.

 

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