North Leitrim councillors have expressed their shock at Minister Eamon Ryan's decision to grant the prospecting licences
North Leitrim councillors have expressed their anger following Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications, Eamon Ryan's decision to grant prospecting licences affecting more than 40 townlands in North Leitrim.
The move comes despite massive local opposition and when news filtered through today (Tuesday) at the Manorhamilton Municipal District Meeting, councillors said they were appalled by the decision of the Green Party leader.
"This is an awful kick to us and everyone who opposed this," said Cathaoirleach of Manorhamilton MD, Cllr Justin Warnock.
Cllr Mary Bohan expressed her shock and said she hoped the decision will be immediately appealed.
"Look at the stark contrast. We have a Green Party Minister who is trying to stop people cutting and selling turf in rural areas and yet he is granting licences that will destroy the area and the environment. It makes no sense at all," she observed.
Cllr Sean McDermott agreed stating it is "not very environmentally friendly" for a "Green Party minister to sign off" on such licences.
Cllr Bohan said: "He (Minister Ryan) is aware of people's views on this. He is supposed to be a Green Minister and now he's in a position to stop the granting of such licences and he has failed to do that. This is absolutely shocking."
She said that any prospecting or mining activity will only "benefit the company involved. It isn't going to benefit local communities and it won't help the environment."
Sinn Féin councillor, Padraig Fallon, described the whole consultation process "as a tick-box exercise". He said the concerns of local people and the opposition voiced at the local authority level, in not just Leitrim but Sligo as well, did not seem to have made any impact on Minister Ryan.
Cllr Bohan referred to the lengthy battle against fracking in Ireland and said that she was "appalled and shocked" by the decision taken by Minister Ryan. "I cannot believe this," she added.
"It seems truly inconsistent that Minister Ryan, a Green Minister can come to this decision," commented Cllr McDermott. "We have already seen his inconsistency with the recent move to ban turf (sale and supply) and his stand against one-off rural housing. There is an agenda here. Keep people out of rural areas so that you can do what you want with it."
Cllr Fallon described this "as the largest issue facing this community. We have to fight this."
We stand united
North Leitrim councillors have unanimously agreed to submit a joint motion before the next full Council meeting in order to voice their objection to the granting of the prospecting licences.
"We are united in our stand against this," stressed Cathaoirleach Cllr Justin Warnock.
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