21 August 2021
“Ireland is not for sale” was the rallying cry from demonstrators as they protested against a proposed mine in Northern Ireland last Saturday.
Hundreds of people from all ages walked from the GPO to the Dáil to deliver a letter to the Irish Government, and convey their dissatisfaction with the current situation.
Dalradian Gold have a planning application to build the largest gold mine processing plant in Western Europe. The proposed mine is in Greencastle, located in the Sperrin region – an area of outstanding beauty (ANOB).
Protesters stressed the mine will have multiple negative effects on the community. Their concern is primarily that it would pollute the air, water, land and people’s health. They also fear it could further affect the farming, tourism and fishing sectors.
Activist with Cooperation Against Mining in Omagh (CAMIO) Gordon Dunn described the plans for the mine as the first ‘domino’ in Ireland. He said, “When that domino falls, it’s going to be a problem for the whole country.”
With roughly a dozen organizations in attendance, there were demonstrators were represented the country-over.
Organiser and Save Our Sperrins activist Fidelma O’Kane urged action for both individuals and for political support as the protest was underway.
“If we all work together, we will stop this toxic industry,” Mrs. O’Kane told The Green News.
So far, 16 prospecting licenses have been issued in Northern Ireland, an area that accounts for 25% of the country. The proposed mine in Greencastle would also be located 1200 metres from a primary school.
Speakers at the event stressed their frustrations with the Irish Government attending the PDAC conference in Canada. Ms. O’Kane said that the government is “inviting mining companies, giving them tax concessions, promising them a straightforward path to permitting and getting them in Ireland.”
Mr. Dunn further stressed that if these mining permissions go through in his community, it would be “devastating.” He said that gold mining is the second most destructive industry in the world, second only to nuclear.
In a statement to The Green News, Dalradian said it is proposing an “environmentally responsible underground gold, silver and copper mine which will bring well-paid jobs and investment to the community in Tyrone for many years to come” and stressed that “securing a future with clean and renewable energy is not possible without metals, and mining is essential to ensure that there is a supply of metals to support the transition to the green economy.”
“Environmental standards in Northern Ireland are – quite rightly – among the best in the world and our detailed planning application reflects these requirements.
We welcome the high level of scrutiny provided by the planning process and we also welcome the commitment from Northern Ireland’s Minister for Infrastructure, Nichola Mallon, to call a public local inquiry,” they added.
By Sam Starkey