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Sunday 21 September 2014

Ukraine conflict is major threat to Irish energy, says Rabbitte

Former minister warns on power supply crisis

Published 10/08/2014 | 02:30

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Former Minister for Communications Energy and Natural Resources Pat Rabbitte. Photo: Frank McGrath
Former Minister for Communications Energy and Natural Resources Pat Rabbitte. Photo: Frank McGrath

Former Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Minister Pat Rabbitte says Ireland's energy supply is at risk, because of the ongoing crisis in Ukraine.

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Mr Rabbitte said the Irish people "would be foolish" to think that if Russia turned off the tap to its European neighbours, that we wouldn't be affected.

"We can't take our energy supply for granted," he said.

Mr Rabbitte, who has expressed deep disappointment at losing his Cabinet position, said that given such a scenario, the country must plough ahead and build the North-South interconnector "as soon as possible".

He spoke of his regret that he was unable to progress the interconnector further before he left office.

"People generally don't become involved in the detail of energy policy. Because of what has happened in the Ukraine, and because of what has happened in the Middle East, this has brought energy to the top of political agenda, and people in Ireland don't appreciate that," he said.

"People in Ireland ought to appreciate this because we are on the end of the pipeline."

Mr Rabbitte called for a much greater public engagement in the country's energy strategy, saying that our ability to attract Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) will be jeopardised if we do not deliver a transmission grid.

"We will have an energy crisis if we don't have a transmission grid which is fit for purpose. The Grid 25 plan is aimed at delivering precisely that, running to 2025," he said.

He warned that the Meath-Tyrone interconnector is "needed within the next two to three years" or supplies will be impacted upon.

He also said the public will have to accept some intrusion by way of pylons and energy lines if they want to enjoy all the comforts of modern life.

"There has always been a trade off between the comforts of modern life and the intrusion into one's community or personal life," he said.

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