Donegal community fights ESB vandals
BY MICK DERRIG
The ESB are planning an act of outrageous environmental vandalism
across probably the last unspoilt part of Ireland. It plans to
run huge pylons taking a 110 kv power line from Letterkenny to
the industrial estate in Derrybeg, Gweedore.
The Alternative to Poles and Pylons group staged an ``Awareness
Walk'' through the North Donegal village of Gortahork on Saturday,
The group wants the ESB to lay the roughly 40 miles of cable
underground. This would prevent the visual pollution of an area
of outstanding natural beauty and would also eradicate the
undoubted health hazard that high voltage cables constitute.
There is a strongly suspected association between these overhead
power cables and childhood leukaemia clusters.
Pat Maguire, an English woman now settled in Gortahork, is active
in the group. She said: ``Having lived overseas in such countries
as Botswana, Borneo and the Seychelles, I have seen these
countries' natural resources eroded by devastatingly
inappropriate development. We can't allow the same to happen in
Donegal.'' Like Miller, she was urging all those involved to put
the power lines issue on Independent TD Tom Gildea's shopping
These people, this community, are on their own. Instinctively
they know that - the only political party that was visibly
represented on the protest was Sinn Féin.
The group and the community in general are furious that Fianna
Fáil Minister for Tourism and neighbouring TD Jim McDaid is
openly supporting the ESB plan, even touting his medical
qualification in a statement of 18 May stating that these power
lines constitute no health hazard.
Internationally acclaimed gaelic poet Cathal Ó Searcaigh spoke at
the walk when it assembled. He had already embarrassed the local
authorities a few weeks previously when he used his opening
address at the Errigal Arts Festival in Letterkenny to slam the
Local man Pearse Doherty, the mobilisation and campaigns officer
of Ógra Shinn Fhéin, was also on the walk. Doherty told An
``It beggars belief that the Minister for Tourism, a Donegal man,
should support the ESB in this act of vandalism. This community
has a long tradition of banding together to oppose injustice.
Sinn Féin will play its full part locally to oppose these
Derry woman Moira Miller, the group's spokesperson, urged all
those who attended to make life hell for newly married
independent TD Tom Gildea, who has the affected area in his
Gildea has made much recently of his ``shopping list'' for the
government to ensure his continued support. This group, broadly
based in the community and determined, aims to push this
environmental issue to the top of Gildea's wish list. In doing
so, they hope to save an invaluable wilderness area and clip Jim
A fundraising concert for the campaign is currently being
organised by Clannad's Deirdre Brennan in Gortahork.
The Alternative to Poles and Pylons group can be contacted at