Dáil debates

Thursday, 3 October 2019

Development of a Liquefied Natural Gas Facility in Ireland: Statements


1:30 pm

Photo of David CullinaneDavid Cullinane (Waterford, Sinn Fein) | Oireachtas source

Deputy Ferris is not in the Chamber and he can speak for himself. I am speaking for Sinn Féin and we have one voice on the issue, namely, that fracking is an environmental disaster. All our policy in the area is evolving. The science is clear and the debate is moving on. One has to be guided by the science on the matter. We also have to be consistent. If we say on the one hand that the State is against fracking, that should be the end of the matter. We should not, as some people try to do, confuse energy security with gas security.

On the proposed Shannon LNG terminal, a meeting of the EU high-level decision-making group will be held tomorrow regarding the projects of common interest list. The Government wants the Shannon LNG project - a fracked gas project - to be confirmed on the list and, to do so, is actively trying to bypass the Oireachtas. That is what it was trying to do when it learned about the many debates being scheduled in the House, including a sitting of the Joint Committee on Climate Action, which will examine the matter next week. Deputy Bríd Smith has invited a number of experts from the United States to testify before the committee. Why were all the hearings scheduled given that the Government had full knowledge the high-level decision-making group would meet in Brussels on Friday? Will the Minister inform the House whether the group will make decisions and, if so, what input has there been from the Government? If it is the Government's position that the project should go ahead, how will that sit with the Government's stated policy that it is against fracking in the State?

There are many issues for the Government to address. Despite all the concerns that were raised, the Government scheduled all discussion on the approval by the State of the projects of common interest and the consequences of US fracked gas in the Irish energy mix for dates after the approval would be given. It did so even though no strategic environmental assessment of the energy plan to import US fracked gas had been undertaken by the State. The Joint Committee on Climate Action is due to meet next week and we will hear from experts. The EU Agency for the Cooperation of Energy Regulators stated all the proposed Irish gas projects are "projects, which did not prove that their overall benefits outweigh costs". On the LNG terminal, Sinn Féin is a signatory to Deputy Bríd Smith's Private Members' motion on the issue, which is due to come before the House soon.

I have no difficulty with Deputies, including those who represent Shannon or County Limerick or elsewhere, having their own views. Nevertheless, we as an Oireachtas have to be consistent, as does the Government. I reiterate there is much hypocrisy in the Government's approach to climate change. We saw it in the case of Mercosur and we see it again now. It is simply not acceptable that on the one hand we say we are against fracked gas in the State and ban it while saying it is okay for us to import it. How is that anything other than hypocrisy? We should listen to the experts and the science, which should underpin and form the basis of policy in the area.


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