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Wednesday 24 September 2014

Power-line review is just 'smoke and mirrors' ploy

JOHN DRENNAN Political Editor

Published 02/02/2014 | 02:30

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Colm Fingleton and members of the Ratheniska action group at a recent protest - he is one of the farmers who will be hit by new Greening rules.

Anti-pylon campaigners have emphatically dismissed the Government's proposed review on putting the power lines underground as representing "smoke and mirrors and nothing else".

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The opponents of the plans to build a network of pylons and windfarms across the country are vowing to continue their campaign, despite the setting up of an independent expert panel.

Despite being "gazumped" by Taoiseach Enda Kenny in a seriously embarrassing fashion, embattled Communications Minister Pat Rabbitte had hoped to put the controversial EirGrid issue to bed.

At the Labour Party parliamentary party meeting last week, Senator John Whelan was the only one to questioned the minister's proposals.

After the meeting, gleeful Labour sources felt the issue was shut.

"Rabbitte completely snubbed Whelan. He was the only difficulty in the room. Case closed," a source said.

However, anti-pylon groups across the country warned Mr Rabbitte that no one was falling for the latest attempt to "pull the wool over our eyes".

North East Pylon Pressure group campaigner Padraig O'Reilly the told the Sunday Independent there was serious scepticism within groups across the country that the review was an "old-fashioned stroke aimed at the local elections".

"Last week's announcement shows no sign of a recognition of the need for a complete change of culture in monopolies like EirGrid, until that happens the people's attitude is fool me once shame on, you fool me twice shame on me," he said.

Colm McCarthy Analysis, Page 26

Within the anti-pylon and wind-farm movements, meetings are ongoing to select a slate of candidates for the local election.

A monster rally of the anti-wind-farm groups is scheduled to go ahead in early March in Dublin.

The Sunday Independent has also learnt that figures within the equine industry are planning to build a seven-figure fighting fund to cover legal and consultancy fees.

Laois anti-pylon campaigner Colm Fingleton also warned the Government the protesters were not going away.

"They completely misunderstand the issue, people want a review of everything including windfarms rather than whether pylons should be underground or over-ground," he said.

In an indication of ongoing community anger the Sunday Independent was told that government TDs had been "roasted" at two separate community meetings of more than 500 voters in Waterford and Cork last week.

Mr Whelan, meanwhile, warned that he would be meeting with and raising serious questions about the process with Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore next week.

Irish Independent

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