Kenny casts doubt on contentious pylon plans
TAOISEACH Enda Kenny has cast doubt over the Government's plans to erect hundreds of pylons, saying he wants to see more debate.
Mr Kenny rowed back on his controversial claims that the pylon plans would help stem emigration, telling Fine Gael TDs and senators that he is receiving contrasting advice from experts.
He told a parliamentary party meeting that a memo would be released shortly setting out his position.
The Taoiseach's comments mark a significant step back from his claim last week that more young people will have to emigrate unless pylon plans get the go-ahead. Mr Kenny suffered an enormous backlash over the statement which he made while on a Gulf trade mission.
His latest comments added to the confusion over the Government's policy on pylons in the wake of protests by groups across the country.
Ahead of the local and European elections, there is increasing speculation that the Coalition plans to shelve EirGrid's plans.
The Taoiseach's comments at the Fine Gael parliamentary party meeting came after Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney said the Government "isn't going to railroad anything through".
A party source said: "Fine Gael has no plan on pylons any more. The Taoiseach kicked it to touch. He distracted, hedged and fudged the pylons issue. Effectively, the party now doesn't have a position."
Striking a conciliatory tone on the issue, Mr Coveney said yesterday that all sides will be listened to before any decision is made.
During his trade mission to the Gulf region, Mr Kenny defended the Government's approach to pylons.
However, he sparked a backlash when he linked the €3.2bn upgrade of the power network to youth emigration when warning about the consequences of not providing the power infrastructure that was needed.
"Now I don't think it's right for any government to say that they can deny the next generation of young people in our country the right to have a job and to live and work in their own area if that be so," he said last week.
Mr Kenny went on to say that it was ironic that people were telling him: "Well my children have to go away, have to emigrate".
"In many cases they emigrate to countries where these things are matter of course as providing infrastructure for development," he said.
Meanwhile, more than 50 pylon protesters staged a sit-in at the EirGrid information offices in Ballaghaderreen, Co Roscommon, last night, which lasted for over two-and-a-half hours.
A similar sized group remained outside during the protest and they plan similar protests over the next few nights.
Micheal Frain, who was part of the group, said: "We just want EirGrid to give us information to allay fears, not the usual spin."
There had been over 200 submissions from Ballaghaderreen alone about the Western Pylon line and "all they did was acknowledge them. We never got any answers," he added.
Fionnan Sheahan, Group Political Editor