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It's time to make a decision on this one way or another

When Dublin City Council announced that it had issued a compulsory purchase order to buy 2.5 acres of land on the Poolbeg peninsula last month, it looked as if the long-running battle over the 600,000-tonne incinerator was finally at an end.

Now it has emerged that the contract with the US company Covanta Energy is due to expire on Sunday -- which gives John Gormley one last hope of working out an honourable compromise.

This argument is now 14 years old and has been shrouded in secrecy from the start.

Over the past couple of years it has become particularly bad-tempered, with the Minister for the Environment declaring that the incinerator will never happen on his watch and the country's largest local authority insisting that the deal is already done.

Meanwhile, the taxpayer, who must pick up the bill, has been largely kept in the dark -- on the ludicrous grounds that the contract for the new waste facility contains "commercially sensitive information".

Now we know that if certain conditions have not been met, Dublin City Council has the power to extend, renegotiate or terminate that contract.

Since one of those conditions may well be the granting of a foreshore licence that Gormley has consistently refused, that puts a whole new complexion on the matter.

It leaves the way open for a new deal that could satisfy honour on all sides -- with the obvious solution being a smaller incinerator and a target of 320,000 tonnes that private waste contractors consider to be more realistic.

The next meeting of Dublin City Council will be held next week. It is time for them to clear up this issue once and for all -- and let the residents of Ringsend know exactly where they stand.