Deputy Marc Mac Sharry has has backed the Treasure Leitrim campaign opposing the granting of prospecting licences for gold in North County Leitrim by Environment Minister Eamon Ryan.
The Minister recently published notice of his intention to grant a prospecting licence to Omagh-based company Flintridge Resources for 47 named townlands in two separate areas, close to Manorhamilton.
Deputy MacSharry said: “It defies logic that amidst a housing crisis nationally and indeed locally, families are prohibited from getting planning permission for a modest family home in rural County Leitrim but yet Green Party’s Environment Minister Eamon Ryan is preparing to grant prospecting licences to Flintridge Resources Limited for gold.
“As a nation we declared a Climate and Biodiversity Emergency in 2019, in recent weeks we have issued Carbon budgets and this very week our Taoiseach and Government will participate in the CAP26 Global conference on our global warming crisis.
“It beggars belief that we are contemplating permitting Gold prospecting in a county which with the support of many others succeeded in outlawing fracking in 2017 after a decade long fight to protect ground water and the local environment.
“The people of North County Leitrim must be listened to by Minister Ryan and Government.
“They have a vision for their county, one which is sustainable, promotes environmental best practice in farming and the rural economy and one which is very far removed from the blind profitability of multinational prospecting companies.
“Mining practices employed are among the highest contributors to emissions and can lead to substantial waste including deposits of mercury and cyanide which are used to extract the gold from the rock.
“This can threaten air and ground water quality which will spread far beyond North County Leitrim.
“The BBC broadcast their investigation into this issue on their ‘Spotlight’ show and its impact on the community throughout County Tyrone.
“Everyone needs to look at this documentary to appreciate the experiences of our neighbours.
“There is simply no way given the challenges posed to our health, and the environment and water and air quality that we should contemplate prospecting or mining for gold in our region.
“There should be a moratorium on all such mining in all of Ireland at a minimum until European Proposals on the Circular Economy are debated, agreed and transposed into Irish Law in order to embrace best practice climate change management strategies.
“I would encourage everyone to lodge their own submission in opposition to the proposed gold prospecting and mining in North County Leitrim”
He added: “Minister Ryan must not grant these licences. He must respect the will of the people of County Leitrim in this regard.”
Treasure Leitrim say that, since Minister Ryan made public his intention to issue a prospecting license to the mining industry, the local community has been building opposition to the proposal with an online objection system while many hundreds of other hand written objections are being gathered in local businesses, active age groups, and marts.
The Treasure Leitrim group has also gathered objections at the Manorhamilton Farmers market last Friday and on Saturday at the town’s Samhain parade.
The group has also lobbied councillors ahead of a meeting of Leitrim County Council at the Bush Hotel in Carrick-on-Shannon on Monday where they hope that opposition to Minister Eamon Ryan’s proposal will be ratified.
One of the spokespersons for Treasure Leitrim, Jamie Murphy, said: “We have been overwhelmed by the response of the community so far but we need to maintain pressure on Minister Ryan and the government as a whole.
“The deadline for lodging objections is November 7 and we are encouraging as many people as possible to make one, whether you are in Leitrim or further afield.
“We also need all of our local and National elected representatives to speak out strongly on the issue and ask Eamon Ryan not to grant this license.
“It was great to see our Manorhamilton councillors oppose the project.
“The best way to ensure that this carbon heavy, energy intensive energy does not get a foothold in the community is not to issue the prospecting license in the first place.
“We have to learn from the experiences of the communities in Tyrone that was powerfully represented in the Spotlight documentary. We need to stop the industry before it starts.”
The public can submit objections to the Geoscience Regulation Office. A prospecting licence permits the holder to explore for mineral deposits but not to mine, and that any permitted activity would be “non-invasive” and have “minimal environmental impact”.