Sinn Fein held an all island anti-fracking conference with a packed hall of up to 300 people in the Lough Erne Resort in Fermanagh on February 20 where they heard from a panel of speakers including a live link up with fracking expert and Professor in Engineering, Anthony Ingraffea from Cornell University.
Professor Ingraffea said the scientific evidence was now out there with 447 scientific papers already available on the industry, the majority referring to negative effects.
He spoke also of how it was important to make a distinction and not just focus on fracking as it was the whole process of exploration and extraction of oil and gas from shale rock that was a problem.
The Professor also noted how New York gained their recent fracking ban some of which was by taking a lead on energy alternatives, positively saying ‘Yes’ to renewables and ‘No’ to fracking.
He asked people to think of the kind of world they wanted for their children, including the type of jobs for them. He said ‘You don’t want your sons and daughters employed in an industry that harms people’
President of Sinn Féin Gerry Adams said that fracking caused a ‘grave’ risk to the all island farming industry including the 230,000 jobs that Bord Bia says is linked to the agri food sector.
Sinn Féins MEP Martina Anderson, who hosted the conference, pledged that Sinn Féin would block fracking when it got to the planning stage on the island of Ireland. And they would bring any application to the Northern Ireland executive.
Chairperson of Love Leitrim, Eddie Mitchell, highlighted the situation of Ballinlea in Co Antrim where Rathlin Energy is planning to drill a borehole in a bid to search for oil and gas.
Mr Mitchell asked the conference what Sinn Féin were going to do to deal with this. Members of the Protect Our North Coast group representing residents from Ballinlea also articulated similar concerns.
Michael Colreavy TD for Sligo/North Leitrim in response at the end of the conference offered to review the situation in Northern Ireland.