Republican News · Thursday 31 August 2000

[An Phoblacht]

Artists protest pylon vandalism

Members of Altan and Clannad performed at a successful fund-raising event in Gortahawk on Sunday, 27 August organised by the Alternatives to Poles and Pylons (ATP) group in Donegal. The big name acts participating demonstrate the strength of feeling in this scenic area against an ESB plan to route a 110kv power line overland from Letterkenny to Binbane near Ardara via Creeslough and Gortahork.

The decision by Donegal County Council in May of this year to grant planning permission to the ESB has galvanised these communities into effective action.

The concert itself was a sell out; hundreds of people were turned away. In the audience were Tom Gildea TD, Dinny McGinley TD and Gerry Adams MP. Adams may have been merely holidaying in his adopted village, but the local youthful Sinn Féin activists have been working tirelessly behind the scenes for ATP putting up posters and doing the foot slogging.

John Bowler, head of Greenpeace in Ireland, made an important contribution. He assured the audience that the people of Donegal were not alone in this fight against the ESB. Up until now ATP has had no support from any elected political representatives of any note.

This changed recently when independent TD Tom Gildea pledged his support to the group. Gildea is currently formulating his shopping list to the government in return for his continued support.

Tourism Minister and local TD Dr Jim McDaid continues to back the ESB's plans.

The group has expressed surprise that the Tourism Minister should be supporting a proposal that will destroy upland tourism in the county.

Group spokesperson Moira Miller said that the concert had been devised to ``raise the media profile'' of the campaign specifically at this crucial time.

Bord Pleanála advertsied in the national press on Tuesday 22 August inviting comments and observations on the ESB's Environmental Impact Study (EIS). ATP are now hiring their own experts and consultants to challenge the convenient conclusions of that study.

Pearse Doherty, Campaigns Officer of Ógra Shinn Fhein and local Magheraclogher man, who was at the concert, expressed support for the campaign. ``The ESB are trying to ride roughshod over the legitimate concerns of local communities,'' he said. ``They are acting with all the arrogance of the old British landlords. Sinn Féin supports ATP's proposal that the powerline should be buried on the line of the old railway. This would create more employment through construction, deal with the environmental concerns and develop the old railway into a tourism walkway/cyclepath.''

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