Enda Kenny asked to intervene in row over pylon cables

Regina Doherty and Denis Naughten at odds over laying of cables underground

The North-South Interconnector will run on 299 pylons about 50m high from a substation in Woodland, Co Meath, to Clontibret in Co Monaghan, linking the electricity networks in the Republic and Northern Ireland. Photograph: Eric Luke

The North-South Interconnector will run on 299 pylons about 50m high from a substation in Woodland, Co Meath, to Clontibret in Co Monaghan, linking the electricity networks in the Republic and Northern Ireland. Photograph: Eric Luke

 

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has been asked to intervene in a dispute between Government Chief Whip Regina Doherty and Minister for Communications Denis Naughten over a review of overhead pylon cables.

Ms Doherty has said Mr Naughten has not honoured “the spirit” of a previous motion passed in the Dáil calling for a review to establish if the project can be put underground.

This is despite Ms Doherty and her Government colleagues voting against the motion that was tabled by Fianna Fáil in February. The Government lost that by 76 votes to 60.

The Meath East TD has written to Mr Kenny pointing out the terms of reference from Mr Naughten for a review of the North-South Interconnector go against the motions that have been passed in both the Dáil and Seanad.

The North-South Interconnector will run on 299 pylons about 50m high from a substation in Woodland, Co Meath, to Clontibret in Co Monaghan, linking the electricity networks in the Republic and Northern Ireland.

The Fine Gael deputy previously said she could vote against the Government on the controversial subject, saying the principle of opposing the planned scheme was more important than her position around the Cabinet table.

Landscape and heritage

The Dáil motion passed in February called for an independent report into the feasibility of putting the cables underground, with regard to the impact on local tourism, health, landscape, agriculture and heritage. The Seanad also passed a similar motion in March.

Mr Naughten and his department have now produced the terms of reference for such a review but Ms Doherty has called them “extremely restrictive” and says they “depart what from what was called for in the Dáil and Seanad”.

“I have expressed to the Taoiseach that what is proposed by the Minster is not in the spirit of what is agreed in Dáil Éireann and Seanad Éireann so he can address the issue,” Ms Doherty said.

A spokeswoman for Mr Naughten said the proposals did not have to go through Cabinet. Ms Doherty was also previously involved in controversy on the issue when she denied encouraging campaigns of civil disobedience against the construction of the overground interconnecter.

Fianna Fáil communications spokesman Timmy Dooley said Ms Doherty was correct in her view, and said that Mr Naughten’s review does not reflect the will of the Dáil.

“The Dáil passed a motion and the Minister has refused to follow the spirit and the letter of it,” Mr Dooley said. “This flies in the face of the so-called new politics.” He also said that Fianna Fáil may table another motion to put further pressure on the Minister.