EVS Volunteers Witness Dáil Victory!

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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.

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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.

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Kate and Andrea.

Victory! GEAI welcomes passing of anti-fracking Bill

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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!

The end of Fracking proposals in Ireland?

Could this stop the oil and gas industry?

Tony McLoughlin, Fine Gael T.D., has put forward an amendment to the Petroleum and Minerals Act that, though outwardly simple, could effectively ban any further on-shore exploration or extraction of oil or gas from rock or coal in the Republic of Ireland.

Wording of the Amendment

Wording of Explanatory Memorandum

Essential wording

“Notwithstanding the provisions of any other Act of the Oireachtas no Minister, Agency,
Planning Authority or Body acting on behalf of the State shall grant an authorisation and/
or grant of any consent, licence, permit, lease or undertaking for the exploration or
extraction of petroleum from shale rock, tight sands or coal seams in the Irish onshore
and Ireland’s internal waters.”

There’s a long road ahead for this Bill.  It must be debated in the Dáil (probably in the autumn), go to Committee stage, come back to the Dáil, etc.  So, this will not be enacted in the near future.  However, it does constitute a very significant way forward for the campaign against fracking.

NOW THE LOBBYING MUST START!

FG TD introduces Ban on Fracking Bill

Tony McLoughlin TD has begun process of developing new legislation

11169407_399929890204803_4742650247145535238_oIn response to the “very worrying developments occurring in Northern Ireland with regard to fracking”, Tony McLoughlin is to submit a Private Members Bill to the Dáil which seeks to prohibit onshore fracking.

Press Release

Fine Gael T.D. for Sligo – Leitrim Tony McLoughlin has begun the process of developing new legislation which he hopes will result in the prohibiting of the exploration and extraction of petroleum from shale rock, tight sands and coal seams in the Irish onshore and Ireland’s internal waters.

“As a T.D. for counties which would be decimated if fracking was allowed to occur, I want to see action on this issue by the new Government” stated McLoughlin.

“The decision process with relation to formulating Government policy on fracking has gone on too long in my opinion and we now are in a position where we need to take action on the issue”.

“There is clear evidence already in the public domain about the damaging effects of this practice of extraction”. “We are also aware that the basin in Ireland is too shallow for it to be conducted safely and without damage to the environment”.

“Several Common Law Jurisdictions, similar to our own, have already taken legislative steps to ban the practice”. “I now want Ireland and this Government to follow this international trend and quickly”.

“There are some very worrying developments occurring in Northern Ireland with regard to fracking, which both Sinn Féin or the DUP have not been able to prevent”. “I do not want to see a similar situation occur in this State”.

“With regard to the Private Members Bill I am submitting, I have received technical advice as to the wording of this Bill from experts in the field, which will hopefully enable it to pass through the pre-legislative scrutiny element very quickly”.

“I have also wrote to the new Minister for Communications, Climate Change and Natural Resources, Denis Naughton T.D. to suggest to him to consider implementing this legislation which would prohibiting fracking from occurring in the Republic of Ireland.”

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