Sligo Today Editorial

To frack or not to frack....

That is one of the most decisive questions being asked today, especially in the North West.

Anti-fracking campaigners are demanding that local councils ban the controversial practice and the councillors are duly obliging by voting with the people thus hopefully ensuring a positive future of their tenure in public office.

Strangely though the government representatives are remaining tight-lipped on the introduction of mining for shale gas in this region, and in other regions throughout Ireland.

In the higher echelons of public office however the message is coming through loud and clear...fracking is coming to Ireland, like it or not!

I clearly recall the Taoiseach's visit to St Angelas last year when he acknowledged that in Pennsylvania (US), towns that had embraced fracking had seen their communities prosper and the only thing that was taking a hit was unemployment. In his address he referred to the advantages and positive effects of new technologies on communities and briefly noted that one particular town that had embraced hydraulic 'fracking' had seen its workforce treble to 30,000.


This was a clear signal that the mood at the top was heading towards the approval of fracking and the delaying tactics of refusing licences by central government was merely a ploy to appease those who favoured an idyllic rural setting rather than an economic boost to the region.

Previous administrations had sold the birthright of the country by allowing the multi-national Shell to commandeer and exploit the valuable natural assets in north Mayo and those in the current inner circle would be keen not to have a repeat of that disastrous policy.

However a valuable lesson has been learnt by the Mayo experience, the government will do as it pleases irrespective of the will of the people. It will deploy all measures necessary to quell any disturbance and see protesters jailed to subdue those who would defy the power of the administration.

The current dangerous global situation is now 'calling the shots' and will give the government the clearance and justification to introduce draconian measures to implement its true policy on fracking. The economic standoff and embargoes being introduced by Russia as a retaliation for similar tactics from Europe and the United States will only strengthen the resolve of our government as the perceived fear is that Russia will some day, sooner or later, switch off the gas supply to the west. Therefore we must ensure our supply and fracking is the 'only game in town.'

Open Mind

The United Kingdom has already acquiesced and allowed Tamboran to proceed with bore drilling to access the quantity of gas at Belcoo in Fermanagh on the Republic's border.

“I hope that people will allow an objective assessment to be made, people should have an open mind. There is a lot of misinformation flying about. Frankly, it scares a lot of people to death and I understand that.” said Northern Ireland's Minister with responsibility for energy Arlene Foster this week. it will be Ms Foster’s responsibility to decide whether the Tamboran exploration company should be granted a licence to drill for shale gas in west Fermanagh if there are viable quantities of the gas in the field, which will stretch into Leitrim and Cavan.

British Prime Minister David Cameron is already playing the Russian card when he said in March, fracking will be 'good for our country', as he blamed a "lack of understanding" about the process for some of the opposition to shale gas.

Referring to the Ukraine crisis and the increased urgency of European efforts to find alternative sources of energy to reduce the leverage of Russia's oil and gas supplies he acknowledged people had "uncertainties and worries and concerns" about fracking however he insisted they would be addressed once people could see functioning shale gas wells in the UK.


Whilst the efforts and determination of the protesters here is to be greatly admired it may be all in vain because the one thing politicians crave above life power, and a 100 or 1,000 objectors will not even make a dent to to their plans to retain their status quo.

They will only take notice if 100,000, 200,000 or more took to the streets to voice their opinion or march to a disputed site. There would not be enough civil power to stop such a show of strength. The military would have to be mobilised which should result in even more objectors and anarchists joining the cause. Then, and only then senior politicians might begin to reaccess their values in seeking a solution to an oncoming energy crisis.

However that scenario is unlikely as most people are 'protested out' and have had enough with their disquiet now reserved to bar talk. Anti-water, anti-household tax, anti-property tax have all taken their toll and have echoed the words of a departing US Ambassador.

Jean Kennedy Smith on her departure following her diplomatic appointment to Ireland, from 1993 to 1998, shocked assembled hacks and dignitaries when asked of her abiding memories of Ireland replied that, 'one thing she would never forget is how the Irish people appear to have lost their sense of outrage.'

I fear therefore that not enough objections will be made to stop the inevitability of politicians issuing the required licences to approve fracking within our country, and especially within this region.

A sad day.....but whats the alternative?

Ciarán McCarthy


Sligo Today

Posted on 09/08/14 : 09:34:06