Updated: 10/05/17 : 06:02:58
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Sligo TD's fracking bill may have to fight rejig

A BILL to ban fracking in this region may face a new fight to stay 'live.'

Sligo TD Tony McLoughlin is pushing his proposed legislation through the current Dail.

Speaking just after his Private Members Bill titled ‘The Prohibition of the Exploration and Extraction of Onshore Petroleum Bill 2016’ officially passed the Committee Stage of the legislative process in Dáil Éireann Deputy McLoughlin said, the progress with his Bill to ban onshore ‘Fracking’ in the Republic of Ireland today, is further proof that despite all the negativity in the media that surrounds the concept of ‘new politics’, it can in fact work and work quite well.

Deputy Mcloughlin’s Bill is the first Bill to make it to and to pass the Committee Stage in the current Dáil.

Yesterday, Taoiseach Enda Kenny warned that there are now 140 such Private Members Bills ''backed up'' in the Dail system.

Very Few

These would have to be prioritised in talks involving all Dáil parties, the Taoiseach told the Dáil.

Said the Taoiseach: "In my time here we had very few Private Members' Bills, less than a dozen in any year. 

''Now there are 140 of them backed up,'' explained the Taoiseach after the issue had been raised by Fianna Fáil leader Michael Martin.

''In respect of the 140 bills,'' said the Taoiseach: ''There is a discussion to be had about what the parties want to prioritise out of the 140".

Some of these Bills will have to be ''amended extensively'' before they can be put into law, he said.

The original Bill submitted by Mr McLoughlin has been amended by the Government with the support of the members of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Communications, Climate Action and Environment.

It now changes from a standalone Bill to an Amendment Bill which the Government will lead going forward. 

Speaking yesterday about the Government’s amendments Minister Sean Kyne said that “today’s amendments were introduced in order to strengthen Deputy McLoughlin’s Bill by providing clearer definitions, setting out the activity that is banned and the penalty or offence that applies”.



Change Made

Earlier, FF leader Michael Martin said many Private Members Bills are ''languishing'' at Committee Stage.

He urged the Government ''to come to the table with some definitive action.''

The Taoiseach said this Dáil was different than others, in that the Government ''does not control the full agenda here.''

One of the changes which had been made, he said yesterday, was to allow backbench TDs the right to put forward opportunities for Private Members Bills.

'Delighted'

Welcoming yesterday’s events, Deputy McLoughlin stated that “I am delighted to be the first member of the Dáil to have his Bill passed at the Committee Stage. I have worked very hard on this issue for the past two years and I am very happy that this Bill has progressed very quickly thus far.
 

“In my humble opinion, this is a major win for Irish politics and for the communities on the ground who I have worked with and listened to for over six years.

"I want to note the role which local groups such as ‘Love Leitrim’ and the ‘Good Energies Alliance’ played in this process to date. The Bill could also not be at this stage without the assistance of the Friends of the Earth Ireland NGO.

“My anticipation from here is that now that the Government have accepted this Bill and have formed their own amendments in order to improve it, that it will now move to the report and final stage rather quickly and that this Bill could be progressed substantially by the summer recess,” concluded the Sligo based TD.