Concerns that Fracking Bill will encounter delays
A powerful show of farming, community, environmental groups and local and national politicians have warned the government there can no delays in bringing a bill to ban fracking into law.
Representatives were speaking at a press conference in Dublin last week about the public consultation process regrading on the bill to ban fracking which has been brought forward by Deputy Tony McLoughlin.
The consultation was called in late December and organisations and individuals are being asked to send in their submissions with the closing date extended untill Feb 10th. The bill was voted unanimously through the Dail on October 27th but subsequent to that decision, the public consultation was announced.
Submissions were delivered on the day from Love Leitrim, Leitrim Co Co, and GEAI as well as 250 petitions gathered by local farmer Michael Gallagher. Love Leitrims' submission stressed the need for the bill proceed to the next stage without delay and no watering it down.
Submissions were presented to Deputy Hildegarde Naughton, Chair of the committee scrutinising the bill. A hand made St Brigid's cross from Leitrim to commemorate the day, and to warn off danger and protect from harm was also presented to her. Friends of the Earth also delivered a petition with 7,500 names that the group and Uplift had gathered online.
A recurring theme at the press conference was concern the bill was being delayed.
Deputy Mcloughlin reminded those present that the bill was only part of the way there. He said they could not afford delays of any kind. He urged that the bill get clear passage with "no ifs or buts."
Eddie Mitchell of Love Leitrim said: "The only thing that can stop this bill is if people want to hold it back'
Deputy Martin Kenny reiterated that sentiment. He said that even though a ban in fracking was voted for unanimously through the Dáil, there were still forces behind the scenes promoting fracking.
He claimed: "There are vested interests pulling strings."
Deputy Brid Smith said that she was "worried they were dragging it out, to make the bill fall." Increased public pressure to ensure the bill continued without needless delays was now the priority, she said. To that end the crowd was reminded that the Friends of the Earth and Uplift petition was still online for people to sign. A vision of a frack free country was one that was in sight.
Kate Ruddock of Friends of the Earth said fracking played "no part in our future" .