Sinn Féin cross-border campaign against Louth incinerator
Newry and Armagh assembly member Conor Murphy, Newry and Mourne District councillors, Davy Hyland and Pat Mc Namee, and Louth County Councillor Arthur Morgan gathered last week to express their common concern at the proposed Dublin Government plan for incineration in the North East Region.
``The Irish government's waste management plan for the North East Region will create a mini-Sellafield right on our borders,'' Arthur Morgan, Sinn Féin councillor in Louth, warned. ``Have we not suffered the effects of Sellafield long enough?''
Newry and Armagh assembly member Conor Murphy said that, given the fallout from incineration, the plants would have severe health and environmental implications for County Armagh and County Down, and County Louth.
``It potentially has very significant consequences for the Newry and Mourne, perhaps even the Banbridge and Armagh, district areas,'' he said.
Arthur Morgan said a principal concern of residents was the potential effect of toxic waste ash and poisonous waste particles dispersed by the wind.
``Experts estimate the most contaminated area is within a 40-mile radius of the actual incinerator.'' (See accompanying map) ``There is no doubt that if Louth County Councillors make the mistake of accepting incineration for the North Eastern region, then it will affect all these areas in a 40 mile radius.''
Newry and Mourne district councillors Davy Hyland and Pat McNamee said they would be calling on the council to investigate the potential threat to the Newry area.
Raymond O'Malley, chairman of the Louth county executive of the Irish Farmers Association (IFA), said there was genuine concern among farmers that incineration would leave a legacy of increased dioxins in food. Mr O'Malley suggested multinational supermarkets no longer wanted to buy dairy or meat products from anywhere within a 40-mile radius of an incinerator. Farm incomes, across the whole border area are at stake.
He added that Ireland's reputation as a food producer was gradually increasing and he believed incineration would destroy the green image of Irish agriculture internationally.
``Are there other options? Agricultural waste is a problem. Most of it is recycled yet there is no policy to help this area,'' he said. ``Our tillage and grass farms in this county could absorb and recycle surplus and damaging animal waste from counties like Cavan and Monaghan and develop a more organic style of farming.
``There is no question,'' says Arthur Morgan, ``that this issue is across borders. Councillors in Louth, when they come to make up their minds in the next few weeks on whether to accept the draft plan, need to take their responsibility to all the people of Ireland seriously.''