How history was made in front of our eyes as we went to the Dail to witness the vote to ban fracking

After six years of campaigning against fracking in Ireland, GEAI members finally saw the impact of their action and of the commitment of the many people who joined the fight. On Wednesday the 31th of June, between 10am and 12am, TDs gathered in the Dail to unanimously agree on banning Fracking from Ireland. And GEAI members were there to witness it.

Aedin McLoughlin, Liam Breslin, Eddie Mitchell and two of our EVS volunteers drove to the Dail to see it happen with their own eyes. It was a great opportunity for our European volunteers to discover for the first time Ireland’s political institutions and system. Ingrid – our French volunteer – had been with us for almost four months but it was her first time in the Dail whereas Bruno – our brand new volunteer from Spain – got to witness this event on his very first day in Ireland!

Dail1

As the discussion went on about the several amendments, Aedin explained who were the different politicians speaking and the parties they were from so that the volunteers would be able to understand what was happening, especially when the matter of whether or not offshore shale gas exploitation should be included in the ban or not was brought on.

The EVS volunteers thought it was thrilling to see the actual arguments and votes go on in front of their eyes as well as discovering the building where it took place and meeting people committed to the same cause as them. They shared the excitement of the room when the ban was finally voted five minutes before the meeting deadline.

Some people had a hard time sitting still while the clock was ticking, afraid that the ban would not be voted in time and that the vote would have to be rescheduled. The volunteers shared this concern as well as the general relief of the ban being finally agreed on at the last minute. Then they could enjoy joining the celebration of everyone involved in the matter.

This is a day they will remember all their life, and same goes for all the people concerned about Fracking, in Ireland and beyond.

Dail2

EPA FRACKING STUDY HAS MAJOR FLAWS

submission-to-hildegarde

Aedín McLoughlin hands Submission to Hildegarde Naughten TD, chairperson of Oireachtas committee

GEAI submission to Oireachtas Committee.

GEAI has made a major submission to the Oireachtas Committee on Environment, Climate Action and Communications on the EPA-commissioned Unconventional Gas Exploration and Extraction (UGEE) Joint Research Programme.  This Study had as its major research question: “Can UGEE be carried out while protecting the environment and human health?”

Conclusions do not reflect findings

We have discovered that the overall summary report did not reflect the findings of the five research reports, which more correctly should have highlighted that:

  • UGEE (fracking) operations globally have major impacts on the environment and on human health, but as human health was not included in the Terms of Reference for the study, the impact of fracking on human health was not included in the study.
  • There are several unknowns around the process of fracking globally and it is not possible to guarantee that hydraulic fracturing can be carried out without contamination of groundwater and air.
  • The hydrogeological profile of the Northwest Carboniferous Basin (mainly Leitrim and Fermanagh) is heavily faulted with deep-seated aquifers and shallow shales, which makes it unsuitable for fracking.

Summary Submission

Full Submission

EVS Volunteers Witness Dáil Victory!

dsc_1185

The 27th of October we, the EVS volunteers, went into the Dáil, principal chamber of the Irish Parliament, to watch the Debate on the Anti-Fracking Bill presented by TD Tony McLoughlin. At first we thought we weren’t going to be able to go inside the Parliament because our names were not on the list of authorized people but, luckily for us, Tony McLoughlin’s staff members were kind enough to get us in and actually watch the Debate.

dsc_1196

dsc_1205_cut

For Alexandre, the Portuguese volunteer, it was quite an unforgettable moment as he has never been into a parliament before, let alone to watch a live debate. It was both surprising and exciting to see that all the campaigning work, not only from the previous few days but also the previous months and years (carried out by the people who were here before us) finally gave some results, despite the attempt by the government to introduce an amendment that would postpone the bill. It was satisfying for him to watch the opposition parties working together in order to get this bill through as it was a rare display of a functioning representative democracy working for the benefit of the people.

For Andrea, Spanish volunteer, it was amazing to have the dsc_1208_1opportunity to go inside the building. In contrast with Spain, where it is almost impossible for one to have access to the Parliament and tobe able to attend such an important debate.

It was an enriching experience: hearing TD’s opinions against fracking and its adverse effects as well as understanding how the legislation process works in Ireland.

Kate, the Belarusian volunteer, is not really keen on politics, however, visiting the Irish lower house – Dáil Éireann – has been a really unique experience for her. She learned that, in Ireland, every new law starts its life as a Bill. After having the experience of attending the debate and watching how the bill was discussed by TD’s, she found many TD’s speeches to be inspiring and challenging. The banning of fracking in Ireland has passed its first stage. She hopes it’ll pass the second one and it’ll become part of the country legislation in the near future.

dsc_1189

Kate and Andrea.

Victory! GEAI welcomes passing of anti-fracking Bill

celebrating-tonys-bill

Toasting the success of the Campaign

 

GEAI’s Finest Hour

Last Thursday, history was made in Ireland!  A Bill to prohibit exploration and extraction of Petroleum from shale, tight sands and coal seams was brought before the members of the Oireachtas who unanimously supported the Bill and agreed to bring it to the next stage (the committee stage) of the process towards becoming law.  This Bill, when enacted, will act as a comprehensive ban on fracking, which is its primary objective.  The campaign against fracking has won a significant victory and has proved that fracking is not wanted in Ireland and that opposition to fracking comes from every party in the Dáil and from every province in Ireland.

GEAI indeed has cause to celebrate.  It is five years since Good Energies Alliance Ireland was formed to join the campaign against fracking in Ireland.  Since then, we have constantly lobbied, politically and though the media, to raise awareness of the harms resulting from fracking and to influence decision-makers locally and nationally to impose a ban on this dirty industry.  We have been involved at every level – local, regional and national – at community level as well as at political and academic.

“Stop the Study” – the Turning Point

Rally 6A turning point in the campaign was last year’s “Stop the Study” campaign, where GEAI spear-headed the drive against allowing the implementation of on-the-ground studies of the suitability of land in Fermanagh and Leitrim for fracking.  As a result of the joint action by campaigners, which included:

  • research into the facts surrounding the implementation of the study
  • an intense social media drive and lobbying of Oireachtas members,
  • public meetings,
  • a rally in front of Leinster House,
  • a presentation to all members inside the House,
  • briefing of all TDs,
  • special briefing of members of the relevant Joint Oireachtas Committee

enough pressure was brought to bear on Government to cause the ground studies to be cancelled and the study to be confined to desktop studies. (This study in now imminent.)

Cross-party support for Tony’s Bill

tony-back-the-billThe issue of Fracking had now become national!  This paved the way for the introduction of no less than three Private Members Bills proposing to ban fracking into which GEAI had input.  These went into a “lottery” and Tony McLoughlin’s Bill was drawn this month. A frenzy of campaigning started by GEAI, Love Leitrim, Friends of the Earth and other organisations.  Last Thursday saw the culmination of all of this effort – a Bill that sought to prohibit the process of fracking was supported by every party in the Dáil and by every TD who spoke during the debate on 27th October.

“After five years of continuous campaigning against fracking, all the organisations involved in our campaign  can celebrate a huge milestone.  To have such unanimous support for this Bill is an incredible achievement for local communities threatened with fracking.  It shows the strength of the united people’s voice backed with the tools of advocacy and social media.  We thank everyone involved and especially Tony McLoughlin TD who brought the bill forward and fought against an amendment that would have delayed the debate.  We are delighted that one of our Directors, Eddie Mitchell, was responsible for the wording of the Bill, together with Kate Ruddock from Friends of the Earth.”
(Aedín McLoughlin, Director GEAI)

A word of warning – we are not there yet!

However, the destination has still not been reached. The EPA report is due to be published and we don’t know what this will say about fracking and what influence it will have on government policy; there are legal issues to be addressed and the Bill can be watered down as it goes through committee stage. We will be vigilant and watch carefully to make sure that what the Dáil clearly wants actually happens – a complete and permanent ban on fracking throughout Ireland.

But – today we celebrate our finest hour together with our friends nationally and internationally who, with us, want fracking to be banned throughout the world!

GEAI WINS PRIZE FOR EVS VIDEO

2016-08-25_video-competition-3

Barry Gilmartin in action on Lough Allen

GEAI has won 3rd Prize in a national competition, “Pay It Forward”, to publicise 20 years of the European Voluntary Service programme.  Three young EVS volunteers, together with a young local film-maker, Barry Gilmartin, made a really excellent short video to show the world what life is like for volunteers in County Leitrim and the benefits they gained by spending  a year here.

(Link to video)

For the past four years, GEAI has hosted young European volunteers to help with our work in the campaign against fracking and on raising awareness about climate change and the challenges facing Ireland as well as the rest of the world. The scheme is funded by the EU Erasmus+ programme, which pays for travel, accommodation and food for those young people.

The EVS volunteers come from all over Europe – from Spain to Romania, from France to Bellarus – and stay in Leitrim for a year at a time.  They experience Irish rural life and culture, travel all over Ireland, make friends with local people and other European volunteers, develop their skills and improve their English language and employability.  In return, the volunteers work with GEAI to publicise issues through website, Facebook and Twitter, they help to organise campaigns and public meetings and do research on renewable energy.

“We are really delighted with our success”, said Aedín McLoughlin, GEAI Director.  “This video was very much an initiative of the volunteers themselves who got together with Barry Gilmartin from Ballinaglera to plan the whole thing.  It is a huge credit to all the young people involved who showed so clearly the benefits of the EVS scheme and I am thrilled that Barry got the recognition he deserved.”

EVS is funded by the Erasmus+ Programme

LINK TO VIDEO

COPYRIGHT

® All rights reserved to GEAI. 2014