EVS Volunteers at Hustings debate

Saturday 13th February GEAI attended a political debate organised by Love Leitrim. It was an opportunity for Sligo/Leitrim Constituency’s candidates to express their position on fracking. The Irish General election will take place in two weeks and the electorate hopes for an engagement from candidates to ban hydraulic fracturing once elected.

GEAI members was accompanied by three EVS volunteers: Olga, Lisandra and Cédric. A perfect occasion for them to follow the electoral campaign.

With this Election and the Vote Frack Free campaign I started my EVS in a very interesting time. Saturday’s meeting was amazing and now I follow its impact during this campaign” declared Lisandra. “It was my first time to a political debate in Ireland and it was a great opportunity for me. Last year in Azores I was a member of a political party and Saturday I could compare the Irish political system with the Portuguese”.

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Cédric, Olga, Lisandra and Aedin

 

SIGN THE PLEDGE – CALL TO ALL CANDIDATES

A new phase in our campaign

Following our successful Stop the Study campaign, the campaign against fracking in Ireland is now entering a new phase. All candidates throughout Ireland, in every constituency, are being asked to sign a pledge that they will support legislation “to ban unconventional exploration or extraction of shale oil or gas using high volume hydraulic fracturing (fracking)”.

To sign the pledge is made simple through the campaign website votefrackfree.org. The website includes a “name and shame” section that names those who have not signed. A publicity event on 19th February will highlight the support given to the campaign.

“The threat of fracking has still not gone away” said Aedín. “Applications for exploration licences are still on the Minister’s desk! We want all candidates of every party and none, to sign this pledge to express their opposition to this industry. Then we want the new government to pass new legislation that will ban fracking in Ireland forever.

We will continue to campaign until that legislation is passed. New studies of the environment and public health impacts of fracking in US are confirming that this is a high risk industry; the litany of harms in areas being fracked increases day by day – water contamination, earthquakes, air pollution and a range of public health impacts that include skin and respiratory illnesses, allergies and cancer.

We don’t want or need fracking in Ireland!”

The Sign the Pledge campaign is organised by Fracking Free Network, Friends of the Earth and GEAI. It is operating through the campaign website www.votefrackfree.org.

“STOP THE STUDY” CAMPAIGN HAS STOPPED THE STUDY!

Good news – it’s official!

The EPA Research Study on Fracking is now stopped. This study was targeted by the campaign against fracking as research showed the study was compromised – it was being led by companies with huge vested interests in the oil and gas industry. A statement from the Department (DCENR) yesterday (2nd) confirmed that the study has been stopped after its first phase, which included an overall look at regulations and legislation governing fracking. Phase 2, on-the-ground studies in Leitrim and Fermanagh which would have included some drilling, will not proceed and a report of Phase 1 will be published in Q3 of this year.

“GEAI is delighted with this news. Before Christmas, Minister Joe McHugh, who has responsibility for Natural Resources, said that he had requested an interim report from the EPA. It is great news that this has been confirmed. Basically, the study is stalled and, moreover, it is unlikely to proceed in the future – we understand that the contract with the lead research contractor – CDM Smith – finishes in August this year, two years from signing.

However, the campaign does not end. Now we will push for legislation that will ensure that fracking is never introduced into Ireland – the last hurdle. We are launching the “SIGN THE PLEDGE” campaign on Friday – asking all candidates to sign a pledge to support legislation to ban fracking in Ireland permanently.”

30th January: MIDWAY TRAINING, AN OPPORTUNITY TO REFLECT

Last week-end Cédric, our French volunteer, took part in his EVS midway training.
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Cédric presenting GEAI

During three days in Dublin, 20 European volunteers were at a training organised by Léargas which was an important time for each volunteer because everybody could share their opinions, experiences – good or bad – and find with the trainer ideas for the second part of the EVS. Different workshops allowed volunteers describing their experience in Ireland, during their work and how they could use their new competences for future life or simply for the rest of the year. Cédric was really interested to compare the differences and similarities between the volunteers.

 

Cédric said “I didn’t realise that I am already in the middle of my time in GEAI because with the “Stop the Study Campaign” and now “Vote Frack Free Pledge” the work is intense. I’m really glad because I’m learning a lot of things that I didn’t expect, for example the organisation of a public meeting, awareness raising environmental issues and life with my colleagues who come from different countries.”

Cédric is now planning life after EVS: “During this 6 month in GEAI I can confirm my passion for journalism but I need to improve more my English”. When we asked him where he would like to live after, he answered “I don’t think I will return to France, because my experience in a foreign country gave me the desire to travel again. Why not stay a second year in Ireland? I visited some places and I have to confess Irish life and culture seduces me more every day.” Well done Cédric! In fact, he has visited Wicklow Mountains, Killarney National Park, Ring of Kerry, Dingle Peninsula, Cliff of Moher, The Burren, Galway, Aran Island, Connemara, Killary Harbour, Strandhill beach and Dublin. “I haven’t gone to Cork or Donegal, these trips should be next!”

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June 29: Trip to the Aran Islands

After our event “Renewable Energies – Prosperous Communities” we went on an Energy Tour in Inishmore with the Aran Islands Energy Co-operative. We learnt about the foundation of the co-operative, visited  examples of PV solar, air to water heat pump and houses deeply retrofitted and we were told about the history of wind energy on the islands. The aims of the Aran Islands Co-Operative is to make the islands self-suficient in energy by 2020 and to ensure enough power to support many new businesses on the islands.

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The GEAI team with Dara Ó Maoildhia

More Pictures on Flickr.

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