Since his election three years ago, Cllr O’Cofaigh has continued his campaign against Fracking and sought to impose every possible barrier to this toxic industry by every means at his disposal and every opportunity.
Council meetings have often been dominated by environmental issues as Cllr O’Cofaigh, working with independents such as Cllr McAleer, has pushed up against the poor and inconsistent positions adopted by establishment parties.
Despite their purported commitment to a greener economy, and mass local opposition, the Stormont Executive continues to facilitate these toxic industries. A new consultants study at the cost of £75,000 has been commissioned to identify options on how Fracking could proceed.
The Terms of Reference didn’t even initially include consideration of public health but after withering criticism from Cllr O’Cofaigh and independent councillors it now does. Whatever is in a terms of reference, there can be absolutely no confidence in this report: there is no safe way to Frack. The fight against this toxic industry both on the council and in the communities must continue until we secure a ban on Fracking.
The Sinn Féin chair of a shambolic meeting of Fermanagh and Omagh District Council has excluded independent anti-goldmining Councillor Emmet McAleer from a Council meeting. During most of the meeting, he only called party colleagues.
McAleer’s offence was to query the stance of Sinn Féin on an application for ‘permitted development’ status for seven boreholes by Flintridge Resources near their goldmine at Cavanacaw, just outside Omagh.
At a previous meeting, Sinn Féin councillors had allowed a similar application through by strategically not taking part in the vote or being absent. This time they opposed the application. McAleer said: “This is absolutely shambolic. Sinn Féin remained mute the last time and are now trying to claim the glory. What is going on with your party?”
Anti-goldmining protestors have picketed Omagh police station in protest at the detention of fellow-campaigner Martin Tracey. This is the latest turn in the long-running campaign.
Tracey detention stems from an incident when he and another campaigner had challenged three people in two cars acting suspiciously in the Greencastle area of Tyrone.
The three confirmed they were working for mining company Dalradian. Dalradian’s prospecting licence for that area had expired two years ago. One of the three started shouting she was being harrassed. Then one car reversed, shot forward at speed and struck Tracey on the foot.
He reported the incident to police, who did not come for an hour. Some time later police went to his house seeking him. He went voluntarily to Omagh police station, where he was detained for five hours. He was released on his own bail, which restricts his movements, and may face charges. Police have so far not taken a statement from the other campaigner.
This is the latest incident where police have ignored complaints of threats, intimidation and assult by people associated with Dalradian. In contrast, complaints against campaigners are followed up.
Mistrust of the police role is fuelled by a statement from Dalradian Chief Executive Patrick Anderson. Speaking at a Precious Metals Summit in Colorado, he said: “The police who deliver the explosives bought shares.” (Irish News July 7th 2016).
If police officers involved in policing the mine area have shares in Dalradian, that is a major conflict of interest. The PSNI has been asked what is their attitude. In a reply, a police spokesperson said: “Police officers and staff are not required to declare the purchase or sale of any shares listed for public sale on the stock market.”
Dalradian so respects the law it is reported not to have paid a bill of some £400,000 to police for escorting the explosives. Meanwhile the establishment parties, both green and orange, remain totally silent about corporate policing of environmental protectors.