Gas protests part of 'global frackdown'


OPPONENTS OF proposals to extract shale gas in the west and northwest held a number protests at the weekend as part of a “Global Frackdown Day of Action”.

Events in Galway, Leitrim, Cork and Belfast coincided with up to 100 events across the US, Europe and Australia, including a “Poetry Against Fracking” event in Vitoria, Spain, and protests at the British Liberal Democrat party conference in Brighton.

In Carrick-on-Shannon, Co Leitrim, some 150 protesters lined the town’s bridge across the Shannon.

The protest also featured open-air traditional music sessions and children’s face-painting in the afternoon sunshine, while a number of business premises also displayed anti-fracking posters.

A large contingent of gardaí with a video monitoring and satellite-equipped mobile command unit looked on as a range of speakers, including TDs, councillors and farmers, condemned the shale gas extraction process.

Three mining organisations have obtained licences from the Department of Energy for preliminary investigations into the viability of extracting shale gas through a process known as horizontal fracturing, commonly known as fracking. Licences for exploratory investigations covering parts of Co Fermanagh have also been granted in the North.

Organic farmer Mary Rose Geoghegan told the crowd that farmers who believed they would make money from land deals with the gas prospectors were mistaken.

She said the only deals being made were to lease land, a move which she argued would leave the landowners liable for potential future pollution clean-up costs. She said the livelihoods and health of the population were at risk.

Independent councillor Gerard Dolan warned of the danger of pollutants from mining being borne down the Shannon.

Sinn Féin spokesman on natural resources Michael Colreavy TD said the extraction process had the potential to turn the area into “an industrial wasteland”, while Luke Flanagan TD said voters could send a powerful signal in the 2014 local elections.