SPEAKING AT THE UN ON LEITRIM’S CAMPAIGN AGAINST FRACKING

Me with Ambassador Geraldine Byrne Nason

With Ambassador Geraldine Byrne Nason

 

I had the honour of giving a talk on the role of women in our Campaign against Fracking at a UN event in New York on 14th March.  The event was organised by the Mining Group of the Commission on the Status of Women and was part of the United Nations two-week conference focusing on the empowerment of rural women globally.  I was invited to speak by Rev Debbra Gill, moderator of the event.

I also had the honour of meeting our Ambassador to UN, Geraldine Byrne Nason and President Mary Robinson.

In my talk, I focused on the stages the campaign went through, starting in 2011 at kitchen meetings, the showing of “Gasland”, protests, public meetings, social media campaigns and political lobbying, resulting in our wonderful ban on fracking. According to the organisers, the Irish campaign against fracking can act as a template for campaigns globally.

Because of the theme of the conference, I focussed mainly on the role that women played in the campaign.  It was only when looking back at the entire campaign that I realised how much women had contributed.  This is not to say that men did not play an important part (Tony McLoughlin and Eddie Mitchell for example), but from the start of the campaign, women were to the fore of the action – whether organising meetings or protests, making speeches, giving presentations, researching, lobbying, tweeting or emailing.  In fact, this campaign had the side-effect of empowering local rural women to make a stand against something they felt strongly about and to feel that they could make a difference.  Up to now, this was not fully acknowledged and I was very happy to emphasise the role that they played.

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June 2017: Government bans fracking!

It was also wonderful to have the opportunity to tell the world of our campaign starting in rural Leitrim that gained such momentum that it influenced our Government to agree unanimously to ban fracking in Ireland.

We now have one of the strongest bans in the world; to remind you, the wording is as follows:

“Notwithstanding anything in this Act or any other enactment or rule of law, it shall not be lawful for a person to search for, get, raise, take, carry away or work petroleum by means of hydraulic fracturing.”

And you can’t get any stronger than that!

Link to presentation: Campaign against Fracking in Ireland

Aedín McLoughlin, GEAI Director

 

Time to celebrate the fracking ban!

On Saturday 14th October at the Ballroom of Romance in Glenfarne, Co. Leitrim, there was a hectic and vibrant atmosphere with people gathering from all around Ireland to celebrate the outstanding outcome represented by the ban of hydraulic fracturing activities on the Irish soil. While approaching the location of the party, one could admire the sparkling Love Leitrim’s Heart lit on the hill in the darkness giving a strong signal of hope to the rest of the world.

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The Leitrim’s Heart (Ph. Love Leitrim)

The six-year-long campaign has been difficult, putting considerable strain on people involved in it. However, looking at people’s faces there is no doubt that very effort was worth to be made. International activists Julia Walsh from New York and Helmut Fehr from Germany joined the party and gave speeches on how Ireland’s fight and victory against fracking has inspired them to keep pursuing their own campaigns.

Entertainment was provided by the well-renowned Kila Band, followed by Stephen Murphy’s touching poetry and the performance of Three Speaking Monkey and The Mullies Crowd and, lastly, the 70’s disco.

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Kila members performing

GEAI members and EVS Volunteers who attended the party would like to say a heartfelt thank you to Love Leitrim, which did a fantastic job in setting up the lovely venue!

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EVS Volunteers at the Global Frackdown party

 

Betting on Climate Change

French banks are still funding what they call “extreme fossil energy” – including shale gas – even though fracking is banned from France!  This is the conclusion of a report from from BankTrack, Rainforest Action Network, Sierra Club, Oil Change International, and other NGOs, published in June 2017.   The report reveals the amount of this funding since 2014. It concludes that, even though the amount of money involved is decreasing, French banks are still very involved with that non-sustainable and dangerous energy source.

Lucie Pinson, from “Les Amis de la Terre”, the French branch of Friends of the Earth, warns not to trust appearances. Even though the amount of money given by French banks to extreme fossil energy is decreasing, there is no sign of thee banks planning to stop financing them completely. On the contrary, they just co-financed new bitumen sand pipelines and fracking stations in the US.

Now that fracking is banned on Irish soil, maybe it is time for us also to check our banking links to foreign shale gas.

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“French Banks, don’t cheat on Climate” (with a pun on “cheat”, which in French is “trompez” and sounds like “Trump”) – Taken from a French article by “LesInrocks”: http://www.lesinrocks.com/2017/05/26/actualite/les-peuples-sioux-partent-lattaque-des-banques-francaises-11948443/

Link to the full report:

https://www.ran.org/banking_on_climate_change

Link to “Les Amis de la Terre” article (in French):

http://www.amisdelaterre.org/Nouveau-rapport-les-banques-francaises-financent-toujours-les-energies-fossiles.html

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!

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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.

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EPA FRACKING STUDY HAS MAJOR FLAWS

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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

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