EP Petitions Committee visits sites of Irish petitions
On Wednesday, 27th June, a delegation of MEPs from the European Parliament's Petitions Committee began their fact-finding mission to Ireland. Following a number of Irish petitions, focusing in particular on environmental concerns, the Committee decided that this visit was necessary so that they could see the sites in question for themselves and ensure that all sides of each dispute were given an adequate opportunity to present their case. The delegation received a warm welcome at each site and, in most cases, petitioners and officials alike responded enthusiastically to the questions posed by the delegation.
Wednesday, 27th June
The members of the delegation, Chairman of the Petitions Committee, Mr Marcin Libicki (UEN, PL) and Mr Radu Podgorean (PES, RO) held separate meetings with Mr Dick Roche TD, Minister for European Affairs and with the new Minister for the Environment, Mr John Gormley TD. During these meetings, the delegation outlined the reasons for their visit to Ireland and sought the opinion of both Ministers about the petitions they were to examine during their stay in Ireland. The delegation was accompanied by Irish MEPs, Proinsias De Rossa (PES), Mairéad McGuinness (EPP-ED) and Kathy Sinnott (ID).
The delegation then travelled to the Dublin City Council offices in Ringsend to meet with Council officials and petitioners about the proposed waste incinerator which is to be located on the Poolbeg site. Petitioners and officials accompanied the delegation to the site where the plans were outlined and petitioners detailed the potential impact on the community.
From there, the delegation travelled to Tara where they met with petitioners at the historic site and were then given a brief tour of the current works on the M3 motorway by officials from the National Roads Authority.
The final stop on Wednesday was in Galway (West of Ireland), where the delegation met with officials from Galway County Council and then held a public meeting to discuss developments relating to a petition about water in the Carraroe area. The current water problem in Galway City and County was also discussed.
Thursday, 28th June
Following a breakfast meeting with Mr Michael Coyle, Chief Executive of Galway Chamber of Commerce, the delegation headed for Limerick City where they met petitioners in the Weston Gardens Estate to examine the conditions under which they were living. The Residents' Association has put together a petition relating to the Urban Environment in which they live and questions they have about EU funding spent in the area.
The delegation then travelled to Bleach Lough in Limerick, where they met with petitioners who are opposing a change in the source of their water supply. The delegation met with officials in the Water Treatment plant at Askeaton and then travelled to Aughinish graveyward where they could overlook the site of the Askeaton Alumina Plant. In the graveyard, a number of petitioners spoke to the delegation, outlining their concerns about emissions from the plant. Representatives from the Environmental Protection Agency gave a short presentation of precautions taken at the site and future plans on the site.
The next stop on the road was Carrigtwohill where the delegation was brought to a site where they could overlook the existing and planned quarries in the area. They then returned to the road and travelled to Watergrasshill where they examined the bypass partly funded by the EU which, due to cost, has failed to encourage motorists to avoid the town of Watergrasshill.
By Thursday evening, the delegation had reached Cork City, where a second public meeting was held. Petitioners at the meeting presented issues as diverse as mental health, rest stops for truck drivers, water, pensions and the retirement of farmers to the delegation.
Friday, 29th June
After a very early start, the delegation reached the farm of Dan Brennan outside Castlecomer in Co. Kilkenny. Dan Brennan has been reporting stunted growth among his livestock for a number of years and alleges that this is due to emissions from a brick factory which has recently closed. The delegation spent some time on the farm and held a meeting with Dan Brennan and the relevant officials to discuss the next steps which would be taken.
The delegation went from the farm to Kilkenny County Council where they discussed petitions relating to water. Petitioners were also in attendance at this meeting.
The final meeting of the day was in Dublin where Marian Harkin MEP (ALDE) chaired a meeting with petitioners dealing with a variety of subjects.
Members of the media accompanied the delegation on most of their visits and MEPs were being interviewed constantly throughout the visit (including live radio and television interviews).
For further information, please contact Eimear Ní Bhroin, Press Officer:
086 8559423 / firstname.lastname@example.org