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Plea for political parties to oppose gold mining in Sperrins

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I recently attended an emergency meeting in Tattyreagh, Omagh regarding a proposed animal incinerator close to a local primary school and residential community. The hall was packed – representatives from the UUP, SDLP, Sinn Féin and the Green Party all spoke against the proposed incinerator.

It was heartening to see agreement in a constituency not especially renowned for political unity. Recently elected Sinn Féin MP, Orfhlaith Begley, promised full support from her party to the objectors. SDLP MLA, Daniel McCrossan, pledged to thwart the development, while Cllr Bert Wilson advised the developer to withdraw his application. Those at the meeting were left in no doubt that the incinerator will be fought tooth and nail by politicians locally.

A few miles away another disturbing environmental proposal lurks – Dalradian Gold’s ambition to impose industrial mining on the Sperrins and its hinterland.

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The project would see around two tonnes of cyanide used daily to process ore in an area of outstanding beauty.

To draw attention to the widely-detested proposal a permanent protest camp has been established and manned 24/7 by local citizens who refuse to stand idly by while their entire lives are speculated upon by international capital.

Unlike the Tattyreagh meeting no Sinn Féin, SDLP or UUP MLA has felt obligated to campaign with them on this issue. Much to everyone’s frustration, no MP, [recent or past] for West Tyrone, has shown any real opposition to the gold mining company.

Alarmingly, Dalradian have now moved their drill rigs close to Omagh’s water supply at Glenhordial. No Sinn Féin councillor in that area (they number four out of six) has publicly commented on the mining company’s activities in either area. As a Green activist I campaign constantly on environmental issues across west Tyrone, as such I often clash with the bigger parties. However, this is no time for squabbling or petty political point scoring. My plea to Sinn Féin and all political parties in the area is to publicly oppose Dalradian for the same reason they oppose the incinerator in Tattyreagh.

If political unity can be achieved in one part of the constituency on public health grounds, then surely, and together, we can protect the Sperrins for the same reason in another?

Irish government should live up to its promises

The taoiseach recently announced the need for a thousand new customs and veterinary jobs at ports in preparation for Brexit – this same kind of advance planning must be put in place, not just for goods and cattle but for citizens too.

Currently there is massive uncertainty around the rights and entitlements of Irish citizens, resident in the north, after the Brexit fallout. People are deeply concerned and unsure and need practical support and assistance from government in this regard.

These concerns have manifested themselves among civic nationalism, community and voluntary groups, the legal profession, academia and indeed certain sections of the media too.

Government should also actively consider recruiting legally trained staff who can guide and direct citizens, unsure about their status and situation as a result of Brexit uncertainty.

The taoiseach has stated publicly that people here will never again be abandoned by an Irish government; at such a crucial crossroads in the Brexit negotiations, it’s past time that statement was put into action.

I have previously raised the idea of a dedicated hub where support services can be centralised, using existing Irish government facilities and infrastructure in Belfast. I have again put that suggestion to the taoiseach and tánaiste.

While the hub isn’t a resolution to these concerns, the government must take the firmest of stands in defence of rights, citizenship and the Good Friday Agreement at the negotiations and afterwards, it can act as an important support mechanism at a time of great demand and need for engagement from many thousands of Irish citizens.

The government knows this is a rational call. They should live up to their promises and show their own citizens they are standing with them.

What does future hold for north?

As this pathetic UK government staggers towards the Brexit endgame one does wonder what the future holds. Certainly all of us on the island of Ireland will be poorer as a result.

In Northern Ireland, even if you believe it is a country, it certainly does not have an economy. If we did, it would be bankrupt, since roughly 33p in the pound is a present from British pockets.

Does anyone really think the gift that, for the unionists has kept on giving for 100 years, [RHI included], is going to keep on giving when the UK gets poorer? I don’t think so.

Last week Theresa May got her white paper through parliament with a few squeaked votes, one with a majority as low as three. One has to ask what Sinn Féin will be saying on the doorsteps in the future? We could have done something but err…we didn’t.

They can repeat their mantra about dogma all they like.

For a party which doesn’t really do religion, Sinn Fein’s political thinking does seem to have a theological element until, it doesn’t.

If there is another election will they still campaign to do nothing? That approach might go down well in the north but in the Republic, it will be a tougher sell. But then, as history shows southern politicians, Sinn Fein included, have always been happy to forget about the north when it suits.

North is like Zimbabwe

Northern Ireland resembles Rhodesia/Zimbabwe in the 1970s. Extreme Churchmen and socialists/communists, using the guise of nationalism, took over the country giving a hope of improvement and positive change.

Instead Zimbabwe rolled down the hill of corruption and incompetence and ultimately to financial and societal ruin.

In the last 20 years of relative peace we, in Northern Ireland, have been made aware of the alleged corruption and incompetence, at the higher levels of our society. Are we the ordinary folk going to ignore this any longer?

Israel always butters both sides of bread

Amidst all the talk of ‘fake news’, media reports on Israeli-led atrocities on Gaza and the West Bank are also branded ‘fake news’ by so-called freedom-lovers. It seems that when journalists cry ‘wolf’ for so long, they won’t be believed whenever they actually tell the truth.

Israel always butters both sides of the bread to keep the left and right at each others throats whenever the real dividing line is between the state and the people.

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