A protest over plans for a new open cast mine in Magheracloone, Co Monaghan, took place today.
The area was affected by a sinkhole over three years ago.
Residents at the protest today said they are worried about the levels of dust, noise, fumes, heavy construction vehicles and regular explosions that will affect people living and working in the area.
“We want clean air, we want to be able to send our children to the school without worrying if the wind is blowing in the right direction,” said Breda McGuigan.
“We are looking for something like the EPA have around the country to monitor air quality with real time monitoring and alarm systems available to everyone,” she added.
“If the mining proceeds then strict borders must be established and monitored to prevent landslides that threaten our homes,” said Geraldine Ward, another local resident.
Members of the anti-mining group Communities Against the Injustice of Mining (CAIM), attended the protest. They said they wanted to show solidarity with the local residents.
Mining company Gyproc has lodged plans to expand its operations in Magheracloone.
Two separate applications have been submitted to Monaghan County Council.
One seeks a major expansion of its open cast mining operations at the site, while the second plans for the replacement of the community centre.
The expansion of the GAA facilities is included in the planning application for the new open cast mine.
The Magheracloone Mitchells GAA club and local community centre were condemned and subsequently demolished after the sinkhole emerged in 2018.
A report into the incident found that operations involving the transport and storage of water in an old part of a mine had led to the collapse of several mining pillars, which probably led to the sinkhole.
The company had committed to replacing the facilities lost during the collapse of the underground mine in September 2018.
It was given approval just over a year ago for a new playing pitch and associated works including dressing rooms, toilets and a parking area. Work is under way on the project.
The company wants to expand the development further and has submitted plans to develop two more pitches, one an all-weather pitch and one with a running track.
A new building to house a meeting room, handball alley, changing room, toilets and sports hall are included in the plans.
A separate application to replace the lost community centre has also been made to Monaghan County Council.
Decisions on both planning applications are expected by mid to late March.
Mining has been taking place in the area since 1958. Gypsum extracted is used in the production of plasterboard.
In a statement to RTÉ News, Gyproc said it is committed to engaging in open dialogue with the community regarding its ongoing planning permission process.
It said it held a community information event last September that gave residents the opportunity to view the proposed plans and raise any questions or concerns they may have.
The company said the mining element of the planning permission is for continued regular mining activity, which is currently ongoing in the area and has been for the past 80 years.
It said careful consideration has been given to all environmental and societal aspects of the area when making this submission.
The company said that should the application be approved to extend current mining activity, water quality, air quality, vibration and noise will be controlled using best practice to ensure compliance with all statutory limits under the oversight of the relevant governing authorities and comprehensive monitoring by Gyproc.
The company said it was encouraging any member of the public who has queries about this to contact them.
In a statement to RTÉ News, the Magheracloone Community Centre Committee said “it believes the proposed new facility can be a focal point for the people of the area for social and sporting activities”.
The committee said it is “excited by the huge potential the development brings”.
It added that “having held a community vote and unveiled the plans for the facility in September, there is a strong desire to see the development proceed and bring much needed sorely missed amenities to this rural community”.
Magheracloone Mitchells said the club is looking forward to the development of the new proposed sports and recreation facilities, “which will be a huge lift to the entire community”, RTE writes.