05 Dec 2021

Rally, objections and Dáil time as fight continues against North Leitrim prospecting licence

Rally, objections and Dáil time as fight continues against North Leitrim prospecting licence

Some of those who attended a rally organised by Treasure Leitrim on Saturday at Manorhamilton Castle picture: James Molloy

The deadline for lodging an objection against the proposed granting of a prospecting licence for parts of North Leitrim may have passed but local people have vowed to continue the fight against potential mining in the county.
In October, Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications, Eamon Ryan, published notice of his intention to grant a prospecting licence for silver, gold and base metals to Flintridge Resources across 47 townlands in North Leitrim.
The public had until November 7 to lodge their opposition to the licence.
The Treasure Leitrim action group, set up in opposition to the grant of the prospecting licence, have thanked everyone for their support over the last number of weeks and are encouraging the public to maintain pressure on politicians and asked people to remain vigilant.
The call comes after a hugely successful rally on Saturday opposing the licence in Manorhamilton where calls were made by community campaigners to not let the ‘Trojan Horse’ of the mining industry into the community.

One of the spokespersons for the group, Jamie Murphy, said “It has been a very intensive few weeks for a shocked community having first heard of the plans to grant a licence. However the response from the public has been overwhelming with thousands of objections lodged.
“There was another excellent turnout at the rally on Saturday where again the message was clear that this toxic extractive industry is not wanted. However vigilance is important. While we have received huge public support from the public and from local and national political representatives no decision has yet been made by Minister Ryan. We cannot afford to become complacent until the Minister makes clear he will not grant the licence.”
Last week the issue was also raised in the Dáil, Independent TD, Marian Harkin and Sinn Féin TD, Martin Kenny both spoke on the issue.
Deputy Harkin raised the matter with Minister Ryan and her very strong impression was that he would grant those licence.
“I was very disappointed at Minister Ryan’s stance on this issue. Yes, he spoke of public consultation, but he also made it clear that because we have higher environmental standards and regulations in Ireland than in other parts of the world, we should mine for base metals here in Ireland.
“This will come as very bad news to the many people and communities who are very concerned about the possible damage to the environment, to clean air and water and to the landscape of Leitrim,” she said.
Sinn Féin TD, Martin Kenny, said the “whole concept with a mining licence in Leitrim is being sold to us as a 'jobs at all cost and profit at all cost' scheme. That's what has brought us into this crisis with global warming in the first place.
“The Government needs to step back from that and invest in real jobs in rural Ireland, allowing people to live and flourish in their own communities. Going down the direction of mining will certainly not do that and I will continue to oppose it at every opportunity,” he said.
Deputy Marc MacSharry also issued a statement noting: “The people of North Leitrim must be listened to by Minister Ryan and the Government. They have a vision for their county, one which is sustainable, promotes environmental best practice in farming and the rural economy and one which is very far removed from the blind profitability of multinational prospecting companies.”
Last week Leitrim County Council unanimously backed a motion calling for Minister Eamon Ryan not to proceed with the licence and .
This week Cllr Felim Gurn, called on Minister Ryan to rethink his position on the prospecting licence citing a previous occasion reported in a Mayo newspaper in September 2008 where Minister Ryan had refused to grant such licences on the basis of the objection received and in consideration of the importance of tourism to the region.
“Is it too much to ask that Minister Ryan apply similar standards when dealing with the people of Leitrim?” he asked.

Cllr Des Guckian said he had lodged an objection to the licence noting that “Inevitably, such prospecting leads to an invasion of our rights to enjoy our properties and to heavy extractive mining activity which will destroy our environment and help to kill off farming and communities everywhere it occurs.”

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