MARY'S FAMILY STANDING UP TO GRID LINK PLAN
Published 04/02/2014 | 05:42
Tombrack woman Mary O'Neill has only ever protested once before in her life. That was against the proposed nuclear power station in Carnesore in the late 1970s.
Now she finds herself in a different energy battle as she tries to stop the building of massive electricity pylons that may or may not cause cancer, depending on which scientific research you believe.
Mary lives on the D2 route, one of four prospective corridors identified by EirGrid for the controversial Grid Link upgrade in Leinster and Munster.
It goes all the way from Kildare to Cork via Great Island in New Ross and takes in Carnew, Ballyroebuck, Tombrack, Ballycarney, Killane, Rathnure and Ballywilliam.
If this corridor is selected it will result in the building of massive pylons carrying 400kV electricity lines in villages and townlands at a spacing of one every 3km.
One of them would be erected close to Ballyroebuck national school.
Mary and her family only learned the details last September when they attended an EirGrid open information day in Bunclody. They were shocked.
One of the pylons would be built on their land, not quite on their doorstep, but near enough to be visible.
Mary, who is 72, and her husband Michael, who is 80, felt they had no choice but to fight
Their son Des, who has three children, also joined the protest.
For the past six months, the family have been agitating and lobbying, writing letters and marching and lending their support to a campaign by the countywide group now known as Wexford Energy Action Group.
Mary is not a protestor by nature. The last time she supported a public campaign was in the 1970s when she was a young mother and the ESB wanted to build a nuclear power plant in Carnesore.
She welcomes Energy Minister Pata Rabbitte's announcement – but is still wary.
'All they're talking about is doing a review. They'll come back and say we can put it underground but it will cost you,' she said.
She is scathing about EirGrid's offer of a suggested €30,000 compensation package for anyone who may have a pylon erected within 50m of their home.
'That was so insulting,' she said.
Mary believes the entire project should be questioned.
'This is not about Ireland's energy needs. It's about export. That's the big issue here. Wexford is going to be the point of export to France. It's what's going to come down the line,' she said.