Dáil debates

Tuesday, 2 November 2021

Saincheisteanna Tráthúla - Topical Issue Debate

Departmental Licences

10:05 pm

Photo of Marian HarkinMarian Harkin (Sligo-Leitrim, Independent) | Oireachtas source

I thank the Minister. This week, every single member of Leitrim County Council supported a motion asking him not to grant a prospecting licence for gold mining. That is a very strong statement. Every single councillor from all the different parties and all independent councillors asked him not to grant this prospecting licence. I mentioned fracking earlier. It is worth noting that petroleum licensing options were granted by a Fianna Fáil-Green Party government. We are lucky that the then Minister, Pat Rabbitte, refused to sign off on a prospecting licence when Fine Gael and Labour were in power in 2011. His decision provided the space for a future Government to reconsider fracking as an option, which happened. The Government in question did the right thing. I now ask the Minister to do the right thing. I do not know how familiar he is with Leitrim. Its farmers will be expected to play their role in ensuring sustainable food production and in sequestering carbon. The burden may be heavier on farmers in this area. To be honest, it beggars belief that any decision the Minister might take could open the door to mining in Leitrim's pristine landscape. He seems to be saying that he would consider granting mining licences. I am shocked by this. He gave the example of conflict minerals, which is off the wall. I listened an earlier response from the Minister in which he mentioned COP 26. He said that this was an opportunity to do things in a better way and to act and think differently. That is what I am asking him to do now. I ask him not to make the mistakes of the previous Fianna Fáil-Green Party Government. I ask him to do things in a better way and not to give permission to companies to prospect for gold in Leitrim.


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