Republican News · Thursday 03 August 2000

[An Phoblacht]

Donegal ESB line safe

A Chairde,

I am writing in connection with your article (An Phoblacht, 13 July, 2000) dealing with the ESB's proposed 110kv power line project in Co Donegal. I feel that it is important that everyone has accurate information in considering this issue. I would be very grateful for the opportunity to correct a number of claims reported in the piece and to inform your readers of the need for this line and its suitability.

There has been a massive growth in demand for electricity over the past 10 years throughout Ireland, and in Donegal in particular. Demand for electricity in the Donegal area has increased by approximately 70% in recent times. The 110kv line from Letterkenny to Binbane will provide Donegal with an additional power supply to meet the growing demand and to attract new industries and job creation, and to meet the IDA targets and to match the Objective 1 status of the area.

This is the reason why the investment of well over 50 million by ESB in Donegal over a six-year period, through this proposed line and other infrastructure improvements, is absolutely vital.

In the absence of the new line, in the event of a fault, many people living in Donegal will be affected, both directly and indirectly. Without the line there would be a lack of a quality supply to place Donegal on an even playing field with the rest of the country in terms of its ability to attract economic development.

Contrary to the article, this line will not be a pylon line - the planning permission applied for is for a line carried on wooden poles, with steel towers only placed where it changes direction and in a minority of cases. Every effort has been made by ESB to minimise the impact of this overhead line. ESB appointed environmental consultants to advise on varied aspects.

The detailed route was then selected very carefully by our staff to ensure that the line was as unobtrusive as is possible. ESB tried to locate structures as far as possible from residential buildings and aims, if possible, and practical to ensure a clearance of 50m was maintained -- this was substantially achieved in selecting the line route submitted for planning permission.

On the issue of undergrounding, it is I feel important to point out that throughout Europe and North America, overhead lines are the standard method for carrying electricity in rural situations. This is due to better electrical performance of overhead lines due to the use of high speed reclosing to clear faults, the speed of repairs which is far shorter,

and reduced environmental affects. For instance, large roadways would have to be built and maintained in the future along every part of an underground line, throughout the route, to enable installation and repair.

I am pleased to assure your readers that we in ESB pay the most careful attention to all aspects of the safety, design and operation of our transmission lines. Our lines comply with international and national standards.

Health concerns have now been proven to be unfounded, through the publication of a major international study.

The UK Childhood Cancer Study - the largest ever study of its kind - found no evidence to link childhood cancer with exposure to magnetic fields from electricity supply. This study looked at every child with leukaemia in the UK over a four-year period and found nothing to link childhood cancer with magnetic fields from electricity supply. The eminent epidemiologist, Richard Doll, chairs its management committee.

The authors of the study, which was published late last year in the Lancet, conclude: ``This study provides no evidence that exposure to magnetic fields associated with the electricity supply in the UK increases risks for childhood leukaemia, cancers of the central nervous system, or any other childhood cancer.'' So strong is this finding that Richard Doll, the eminent scientist credited with finding the link between smoking and lung cancer, believes there is ``now no justification for further epidemiological studies on EMF and childhood cancer in Britain.''

Finally, may I say that we in ESB do take seriously the concerns of people about our infrastructure work. We have in the past met with groups and individuals who wished to comment on our plans in Co Donegal. All of our plans are subject to decision by local authorities and where needed by An Bord Pleanála.

Thank you for your attention,

Michael Kelly,

Press Officer,


Where's the controversy?

A Chairde,

While appreciating the lengthy coverage of the recent launch of our policy document, ``Facing the Future'', in your publication (27 July) we were surprised at the points your correspondent, Michael Pierse, appeared to take issue with and which he describes as ``controversial at least''.

Firstly, there is nothing particularly controversial in noting that the appropriate treatment identified for an addict ``does not necessarily have to be the client's preferred option''. The inadvisability, for example, of putting a 16-year-old heroin smoker with a habit that is far from well established on a methadone script, even though they may seek it, would not be contested by many.

Secondly, our point that ``the efficacy of Needle Exchange Programmes in reducing blood borne infections has not been unequivocally established through independent studies utilising established scientific protocols'' is a matter of fact, not controversy. The international literature in this regard shows decidedly mixed results. The Merchants Quay Project has, it is true, argued that their service is effective on the basis of an evaluation which assessed the injecting risk behaviour of clients over a three-month period. The fact, however, that this study was based on the self-reported behaviour of addicts makes it of little scientific value. Furthermore, establishing a reduction in risky injecting behaviour over a three-month period is not the same as establishing an impact on infection rates, which is the real issue.

Thirdly, we are unsure what could be ``unwise'' about having prospective tenants of local authority housing undertake an induction programme. This practice is well established in the voluntary sector providing social housing with no particular deleterious effects that we are aware of.

In conclusion, on a matter of fact, while honoured to be described as the National Chairperson of COCAD, this distinction belongs to Cecil Johnston.

dré Lyder,

Coalition of Communities Against Drugs,

Cork Street,

Dublin 8

Prison art on view

``Paintings on a Prison Blanket - The art of Hugh Doherty'' is the title of an exhibition which is taking place on the third floor of the Conway Mill during the week of the West Belfast Festival. It is one of those events which no one should miss. The exhibition, hosted by the Radical Arts Group, focuses exclusively on the work of former republican POW Hugh Doherty.

Hugh Doherty was born in the Gorbals, Glasgow. His childhood, like that of many others, was spent between Scotland and Donegal. In the late `60's he became involved in republican activity. Following the siege of Balcombe Street he was arrested and eventually sentenced to imprisonment ``for the rest of his natural life''.

The list of goals in which Hugh was incarcerated reads like a history of the British penal system - Brixton, Wandsworth, Leicester, Durham, Winston Green, Parkhurst, Wakefield, Long Lartin, Bristol, Franklin, Albany, Full Sutton, Whitemore and Belmarsh.

On 5 May 1998 he was transferred to Portlaoise and five days later he and three of his fellow prisoners were given parole to attend the Sinn Féin Ard Fheis, which was discussing the Good Friday Agreement. In April 1999 he was released and is again living in Donegal.

It was during his years as a Republican POW in Britain gaols that Hugh began painting. The regime in these gaols was, to put it mildly, harsh and punitive in the extreme and access to materials was limited. Many of his works are painted on prison sheets. Despite these conditions (and despite two and a half years in solitary confinement) Hugh continued with his work and he has little but praise for those teachers who assisted him.

This exhibition provides a unique opportunity to view some of the work that Hugh produced during that period.


Coalition betraying whales

A Chairde,

The Irish Australian Association wishes to register its disappointment that the Irish government's commissioner to the International Whaling Commission, Mr Michael Canny, was instrumental in defeating a proposal for the creation of a Whaling Sanctuary in this region of the south Pacific.

We understand that Mr Canny was instructed by the Irish government to oppose the creation of such a sanctuary.

Irish/Australians have been appalled at this decision taken by the government, and, on behalf of the Irish Australian Association, we wish to register our protest in the strongest possible terms.

The position taken by the Irish government has contributed to the weakening of the Moratorium to end commercial whaling. We call upon the Irish government to support not only a Whaling Sanctuary in the South Pacific, but also to support a global whale sanctuary as the only way to stop commercial whaling and the predatory behaviour of some rogue governments and the commercial whaling industry. Anything short of this will only aid and abet international commercial whaling.

Japan and Norway have cited scientific basis as the need to continue commercial whaling. We believe this practice is a barbaric industry and one that is not warranted in this day and age of new and rapidly developing technologies which make the need for industries such as commercial whaling obsolete.

These are thousands of expatriate Irish who feel very strongly that the Irish government is taking the wrong course on the matter of commercial whaling and hope to see the government in Dublin support a Whale Sanctuary. This would be consistent with the government's environmental global concerns and allow us as Irish/Australians to be proud of an Irish government that is instrumental in ending the barbarism of commercial whaling.

Kathleen McDevitt,


The Irish Australian Association,

13-15 Carrington Street,

Adelaide, SA 5000

Our error

A Chairde,

As a reader, I wish to bring to your attention an article in the edition of 29 June, titled Crowley Presentation In Cork. It stated that Volunteer Tony Ahern died while transporting a bomb by car near Omagh in County Tyrone.

This is not true, Tony Ahern died while planting a landmine at a border point outside Roslea in County Fermanagh, known as Mullinhainch, on the Roslea-Clones Road. His comrade, Dermot Crowley, died while transporting a bomb in a car near Omagh in County Tyrone. May they both rest in peace.

I trust that you could correct this at your convenience.

James Murray,


Co. Fermanagh.

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