Tuesday 25 October 2016

Save the whale and wave the children goodbye

Published 22/02/2012 | 05:00

• In recent weeks I have read numerous articles and letters objecting to the exploration for gas or oil off the Dublin coast. Similar articles have been written objecting to fracking in Leitrim, the construction of wind turbines on hill tops, the construction of an electrical interconnector between the Republic and Northern Ireland and, of course the bringing ashore of gas in north Mayo. It would appear that we are against anything that might in any way endanger the environment.

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Is it not time that we as a country realised that the environment is not just clean water, pristine grass, and healthy birds and dolphins etc? The environment also includes something infinitely more valuable; our sons and daughters.

The buses to the airports are full of those same sons and daughters who are forced to emigrate due to a lack of employment at home.

At the same time, our younger sons and daughters are suffering in under-resourced schools and hospitals, all of which will unfortunately continue until our current economic situation improves.

Careful exploitation of whatever natural resources we are lucky enough to find could be a major factor in resolving our current economic situation and giving those sons and daughters the opportunities they deserve to stay at home -- or indeed to return.

We cannot ignore the fact that our sons and daughters are travelling to the US, Canada and Australia, where they will be perfectly happy to live in warm homes, heated by cheap natural gas from fracked wells.

They will work in offices and factories powered by cheap electricity generated from natural gas.

In the meantime, our energy costs will continue to rise, making our factories uncompetitive and, as a consequence, condemning our children to a life in exile, while we save for an annual ticket to visit grandchildren who hardly know us.

As a society, we must of course recognise the importance of the environment but at the same time recognise that the most valuable part of that environment is the people.

We must accept that some risks have to be taken if we are lucky enough to find energy sources within our borders.

The Government must ensure that any potential natural resources are exploited for the benefit of the country, while ensuring all reasonable precautions are taken to minimise any potential negative impact on our environment, not eliminate the risks -- that is impossible. The Government must govern for the majority and not be distracted by minority local-interest groups. We owe this to our sons and daughters.

William O'Connell
Killincarrig, Co Wicklow.

Irish Independent

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