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Protesters urge Sinn Fein to block fracking licence

Protesters urge Sinn Fein to block fracking licence
Extinction Rebellion Ireland held a demonstration outside the party’s headquarters in Dublin to highlight its ‘lack of timely action’.

Fracking protesters have urged Sinn Fein to block petroleum licences in Northern Ireland

Extinction Rebellion Ireland held a demonstration outside the party’s headquarters in Dublin on Wednesday, in a bid to highlight Sinn Fein’s “lack of timely action” to prevent oil exploration and extraction of oil and gas.

Campaigners said the protest was held in solidarity with communities in Northern Ireland, along with activist groups Futureproof Clare, Shale Must Fall, LAMP Fermanagh, and Belcoo Frack Free.

Stormont Economy Minister Gordon Lyons is expected to bring forward a policy on oil and gas drilling before the end of the year.

Extinction Rebellion Ireland activists Art O’Laoghaire, Oscar Mooney and Louis Heath protest outside Sinn Fein’s Dublin HQ (Brian Lawless/PA)

While Sinn Fein last week put forward a Bill which would outlaw the exploration and extraction of petroleum by fracking, it has been criticised by campaign groups.

Oscar Mooney, of Extinction Rebellion Ireland, said: “Fracking is a dangerous practice that destroys environments, communities, and is a violation of human rights.

“In Sinn Fein’s election manifesto they stated they would secure ‘a total ban on fracking across the island of Ireland, including exploratory drilling’.

“The DUP Minister of Economy, Gordon Lyons, is reviewing petroleum licensing policy and intends to introduce petroleum licensing policy options into the Northern Ireland Executive before Christmas.

“Sinn Fein have four seats in the Executive, the DUP have five seats, but Sinn Fein can work with the commitments from Alliance and UUP to ensure the new policy is to ban petroleum licensing in Northern Ireland.

“We call on Sinn Fein to act now in the Northern Ireland Executive to ensure a full and final ban on petroleum licensing by voting for a ban on petroleum licensing to be the new Northern Ireland policy.

“This will fulfil Sinn Fein’s promise, before it is too late.”

Extinction Rebellion Ireland is calling on Sinn Fein to act now in the Northern Irish Executive to ensure a full and final ban on petroleum licensing (Brian Lawless/PA)

The group said that, while there is currently no fracking on the island of Ireland, if a petroleum licensing policy is passed then two current applications will be granted.

This will allow drilling and fracking at two locations in Northern Ireland – in Fermanagh and at Lough Neagh.

Mr Mooney added: “The expansion of the fossil fuel industry, just after Cop26 in Glasgow, is not just disappointing but wholly irresponsible.

“We know that we need to stop relying on fossil fuels and rapidly switch to renewables immediately if we want to stay under 1.5 degrees and avoid the worst effects of climate change.”