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.

Fracking ban
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

 

GEAI field trip to Cloughjordan, the eco-village

Entrance of the eco-village

A few weeks ago a group of GEAI volunteers paid a two-day visit at Ireland’s only eco-village situated at the heart of Cloughjordan, a small town in County Tipperary.
Upon our midnight  arrival  we decided to grab a drink in one of the local pubs and something to eat at the only place we could find open at midnight. Afterwards, we spent the night at the Django Hostel, where we received a warm welcome from Pa, the hostel’s manager.
The next day, two of us took part in a workshop about “The Art of Facilitation” organised by Cultivate whilst the rest of the group took the opportunity to explore the village and its surroundings accompanied by a local EVS Volunteer.

Cloughjordan’s eco-village is a unique place in Ireland. The project is aimed at creating modern sustainable living. There are currently 130 low-energy houses of different styles, ranging from small apartments and large detached houses, built accordingly to high ecological standards which combine energy efficiency design with local natural building materials.
Moreover, residents can benefit from the community heating system totally supplied by renewable energies such as woodchip boilers and solar panels.

Cloughjordan community garden

This residential area is surrounded by community gardens and community or personal allotments available for food production. Besides, the eco-village also comprised about 50 acres of woodland and farmland. There is also a plantation zone which includes an area dedicated to tree nursery. While walking around the land it is also possible to visit the organic farm with sheep, pigs, cows and fields for crop production.
Reducing the carbon footprint is not just about energy efficiency but also transportation. For this reason, a pilot car-sharing initiative has been put in place amongst residents. In addition, the village is located within walking distance from the local train station of Cloughjordan.

Compost area

The eco-village is also an excellent centre of education for sustainable living. Workshops, courses, seminars and events about several topics are hosted regularly in Cloughjordan. Walking around the village you also come across several panels with useful and interesting information,  most of which have educational purposes, for example, there is an area used for composting where the whole process is explained is a simple way through colourful images. This is suitable not only for children but also for adults interested in learning how to correctly create their own compost.

The eco-village also organises “Experience day” tours twice a month where it is possible to walk around the village, have lunch while meeting members of the community.

Those two days were inspiring for all of us. We appreciated the strong sense of community engagement and cooperation surrounding the Cloughjordan eco-village project and learnt that it is truly possible to live our lives in a sustainable way.

A New Climate for Education – an important Seminar

Last Friday, at the Teacher’s Club in Dublin, a seminar “A New Climate for Education“ was held, to discuss how Climate Change and sustainability are incorporated into schools curricula. This was organised by Green Foundation Ireland, Cultivate, GEAI and ECO – UNESCO.

Aedín McLoughlin, Director of Good Energies Alliance Ireland and the GEAI EVS volunteers attended this event.  During the morning there were really interesting presentations from the ecologist and TV presenter, Duncan Stewart; Breda Naughten from Dept. Of Education; and Peadar Kirby, Professor Emeritus at the University of Limerick. Young people had an opportunity to express their views and time was given for discussion on how best to implement climate change studies in schools.

The most memorable quotes that we took away with us included:

An increase in temperature of three and a half degrees is going to make our planet uninhabitable, and we need to get this information into the schools. We’re on borrowed time. We’re taking young people’s future, it’s a serious situation.” (Duncan Stewart)

“Are we sowing the seeds of new values, new energies, new questing people? Or are we conforming to the system?” (Peadar Kirby)

“I think the most important thing is that we don’t make anything worse. Each euro spent in an investment in the world we live in.” (Ben Mallon)

Also memorable was the great contribution by young people to the discussion.

You can find more information about the event itself here.

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.

leitrim heart

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.

kila

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!

IMG_4635

EVS Volunteers at the Global Frackdown party

 

SMART ENERGY ACTION LOCALLY!

survey

GEAI volunteers on their way to do an Energy Survey

 

Energy surveys have been carried out in Carrick-on-Shannon, Drumshanbo, Ballinamore and Carrigallen (Leitrim); in Grange (Sligo) and Ballyshannon (Donegal) this summer, as part of the NECS project organised by Good Energies Alliance Ireland (GEAI) and I.T. Sligo.  Six Smart Energy Action events are now organised for the target towns and all are welcome.

The events will take place as follows:

Carrick-on-Shannon on Tuesday 12th September in Bush Hotel, 10am – 2pm.
Drumshanbo on Thursday 14th in Áras Padraig, 10am – 2pm .
Grange on Friday 15th in the Temperance Hall, 10am – 2pm.
Carrigallen on Monday 18th in the Old Schoolhouse, 10am to 2pm
Ballinamore on Tuesday 19th in the Scouts Den, 10am – 2pm.
Ballyshannon on Thursday 21st in the Breesy Centre, 10am – 2pm.

Each event will include

  • Case Studies
  • Results of the Energy Survey
  • Discussions on clean energy schemes and funding and
  • The way forward for each town.

All events are free and refreshments and lunch are included.  All welcome.

For further details, please contact GEAI at 087 2382324.

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