Bid to unite communities in environmental fight

26/01/2006 - 16:33:23


A new environmental forum has been set up to unite communities fighting against industrial pollution, incinerators and mobile phone masts.

The Irish Environmental Forum will include more than 20 different groups from around the country.

Its new chairwoman, Independent MEP Kathy Sinnott, said the environmental movement had been hampered by the lack of a national voice.

“There’s no substitute for the local fight, but we want local groups linked up for mutual help and information, and to nationally start highlighting the fact that it isn’t just happening in one place. There’s a similar disregard for people’s health and the environment all over the country,” she said.

The groups who have signed up to the forum in three preliminary meetings include farmers concerned about industrial pollution in Limerick, residents fighting against the Indaver incinerator in Cork Harbour, and people opposed to mobile phone masts in Waterford.

“Our only litmus test for joining is that you’re serious about it. If you’ve party politics, you leave them at the door,” said Ms Sinnott, adding that she was only a ‘midwife’ to the birth of the forum.

She said that officials in the European Commission had pointed out to her that while countries like Holland and Sweden had strong national environmental groups, the environmental movement in Ireland lacked a similar voice.

“Our Government and state environmental protection bodies are ignoring or exacerbating the problem. Their protection is no protection at all. I look forward to the tackling these difficulties with all of the forums members. It is our country and it is time we take its protection seriously,” she said.

A report from the European Environment Agency (EEA) last year marked Ireland as among the worst in Europe in a number of categories, including the production of greenhouse gases, acidifying substances, ozone and municipal waste.

But it did find that the country rated better than others when it came to energy consumption, freshwater use, organic farming, renewable energy and freight transport demand.

© Thomas Crosbie Media, 2006.

Informant: Colette O'Connell


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