Fianna Fáil TD Eugene Murphy said that fracking would be a disaster for Ireland and he praised the various community groups throughout North Roscommon and Carrick-on-Shannon for highlighting the dangers of fracking when the private members bill to ban hydraulic fracturing for shale oil and gas came before the Dáil this week.
The Bill received widespread support from all sides of the house.
Commenting on the issue Eugene Murphy TD “There are potentially significant risks to our natural environment due to the pumping technique and the fate of the fluids used in the drilling and fracturing processes. The possible risks to our drinking water from fracking are simply not acceptable. Nor is the possibility of serious damage to our reputation as a high quality food producing nation worth risking,” said Deputy Murphy who was speaking on the Prohibition of Onshore Hydraulic Fracturing Bill.
Deputy Murphy praised the various community groups including Love Leitrim and he welcomed people from North Roscommon and Carrick-on-Shannon to the public gallery of the Dáil.
Eugene Murphy was Mayor of Roscommon County Council in 2011-12 when Roscommon became the first county in Ireland to propose that fracking would not be permitted in the county because of the potential devastating consequences for North Roscommon, which is a major tourism region.
“We do not need fracking in Ireland. Fracking is not suitable for a small island country, dotted with lakes and rivers, hills and valleys. It would be a disaster for this country. I am glad there is support for the Bill right around this Chamber and that we are all at one on it. It is something I am determined we must keep out of Ireland. We do not have the vast areas of land where this can be developed and it would be a huge mistake to allow fracking,” said Deputy Murphy..
The Fianna Fáil TD said that fracking would not be necessary if proper guidelines and regulations were in place in relation to the development of solar and wind energy.
“The Government needs to put legislation in place in regard to wind farms because that will solve the issue. It also needs to do this in regard to solar power. No planning is being granted for solar at the moment and An Bord Pleanála will not pass planning requests on the basis that there is no legislation. The Government is falling behind on this issue.
“We have a brilliant tourism product that we can develop in our locality – in Roscommon, Leitrim, the midlands and the west. That is where we want the money spent and what we want to develop”.
Referring to the issue of climate change, Deputy Murphy said that many small farmers may not want to say it publicly, they know that climate change is a reality.
“Masses of young people from rural and urban areas believe climate change is an issue. I come from a rural farming background and I accept that climate change is an issue. However, we need a balance and we need to understand that farmers and those in rural areas need to survive. By working closely together we can ensure that everybody’s situation is taken into account.
Eugene Murphy went on to say “It is not the small or medium-sized farmers who are causing a problem with climate change. They also need to be protected to a degree. Looking back over the years, the greatest custodians of our environment were the small or medium-sized farmers. They love nature and they protected nature. It is very important that we acknowledge that in anything we do.
“I have had discussions with people involved in wind energy and have had discussions with Coillte. The Government should develop regulations so that when a wind farm is developed, one turbine should be given over for the use of the community within a 5 km or 10 km area so that they have free electricity. We need to engage with those people and include them. If we develop solar and wind energy, we do not need fracking in our back gardens, and we do not want it,” concluded Deputy Murphy.