Opponents of mining in Connemara have inundated the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment with objections to plans to issue a prospecting licence in Ballyconneely and Roundstone.
The Exploration and Mining Division (EMD) of the Department has confirmed it has received some 619 submissions from the public on Toronto-based MOAG’s plans to search for minerals in Connemara.
The closing date for submissions was July 6, and Department officials are mulling over the objections, and compiling a report. Richard Bruton is the relevant minister but a decision about whether to grant the prospecting licence, according to the Department, has been delegated to Junior Minister, Sean Canney, an Independent Galway East TD.
A local committee (Protect Connemara – Keeping Ballyconneely and Roundstone Bog free from Mining) has urged people to lobby Minister Canney to turn down the request for a prospecting licence.
“We are trying to keep the pressure up. We want to stop it now – we need to nip this in the bud,” said Terri Conroy, a member of the emergency committee of the grassroots group that formed to oppose mining in the picturesque area.
Ms Conroy said the Ballyconneely/Roundstone group has linked-up with another recently formed committee, Keep Mining out of Joyce Country, which organised a well-attended meeting in Maam late last month to oppose plans to renew a prospecting licence to a different Canadian mining company, BTU Metals Corp, in an area stretching from Killary Harbour to Lough Corrib.
She said that as well as prospecting for gold and silver, MOAG want a licence to search to find Molybdenum.
“It’s a mineral that’s used to harden steel, and in missiles and wings of aircraft but the price is dropping and there are a lot of Molybdenum mines closing down around the world because they’re not viable,” she said.
Ms Conroy said it was not true that mining would bring jobs to Connemara.
“We can only go on past experience. MOAG has been in Carna for the past two years and they’ve employed three people, part-time, which is one and a half full-time jobs. There are only 1,500 jobs in mining in Ireland. How many jobs will be lost, in tourism, through the destruction of the environment?
“I don’t think people realise what it entails. It’s open-cast mining and use of chemicals. We are campaigning to protect our livelihoods, culture, heritage, farms, water and air, health and wellbeing, as well as our beautiful environment,” she said.
Protect Connemara will hold an annual general meeting next Thursday (August 22) in Ballyconneely Hall, where officers will be elected. The AGM is open to the public, and more volunteers are encouraged to attend, but politicians will not be allowed to speak at the event. The group will then host another public meeting – where everyone will be allowed to air their views – when new officers are in place.
The Department insists that a prospecting licence relates to prospecting only, and does not confer mining rights.
Man in his 70s killed in South Galway crash
A man in his 70s has died following a crash in South Galway on Tuesday afternoon.
Gardaí are currently at the scene of the two-car crash, which occurred at around 3.35pm on the N18 at Kiltartan.
The driver and sole occupant of one of the vehicles, a man in his 70s, was pronounced dead at the scene. His body was taken to University Hospital Galway where a post-mortem examination will be conducted at a later date.
The driver and sole occupant of the other vehicle involved, a man in his 30s, was taken to University Hospital Galway for treatment of his injuries which are believed to be non-life threatening.
The road is currently closed and will be closed overnight awaiting an examination by Garda Forensic Collision Investigators have been requested.
Gardaí have appealed for any witnesses or road users with dash cam footage to contact them.
Schools and colleges in Galway advised to close for Storm Barra
Schools in Galway have begun informing parents that they will not open tomorrow, following advice from the Department of Education.
The Dept said this evening that schools, colleges and universities in areas where a Status Orange or Red warning apply for Storm Barra should not open.
A spokesperson said: “Met Éireann has advised that there is a strong possibility that the status of parts of these counties currently in Status Orange are likely to change and escalate to Status Red.
“Due to the significant nature of Storm Barra, as forecast by Met Éireann and to give sufficient notice to institutions of further and higher education, the department is advising that all universities, colleges and further education facilities covered by the Red Alert and Orange warning from Met Éireann should not open tomorrow, 7 December.
“All schools and third level institutions should keep up-to-date with the current weather warnings which are carried on all national and local news bulletins and in particular any change in the status warning for their area.”
Galway Gardaí: ‘Stay at home during Storm Barra’
Gardaí in Galway have warned people to stay home tomorrow (Tuesday) as Met Éireann forecasted a ‘risk to life’ ahead of Storm Barra’s expected landfall tomorrow morning.
At a meeting of the City Joint Policing Committee (JPC), Council Chief Executive Brendan McGrath said the City Council was preparing for the ‘high probability’ of coastal flooding.
A combination of tomorrow’s high tides with the forecast high winds and heavy rainfall would likely lead to a flooding event, he said.
Chief Superintendent Tom Curley said the best advice available was to stay at home but refused to comment on school closures – advising that was a matter for the Department of Education.
Mr McGrath said a number of meetings between local and national agencies had already taken place, with more set to run throughout the day as preparations got underway for this winter’s first severe weather event.
“High tide is at 6.45am tomorrow morning and at 7.20pm tomorrow evening. There is currently a Red Marine Warning in place for the sea area that includes Galway and an Orange Storm Warning for Storm Barra for 6am Tuesday morning to 6am on Wednesday morning,” said Mr McGrath, adding that it was possible this storm warning could be raised to Red later today.
With high tide at 5.45 metres and a forecast storm surge of 1.05m, the risk of flooding was significant. In addition, winds were currently forecast to be South-West to West, said Mr McGrath, conducive to a flooding event in the city.
“It is potentially problematic . . . the hope would be that the storm surge doesn’t happen at the same time as high tide,” he added.
The flood protection barrier had been installed at Spanish Arch over the weekend and storm gullies had been cleaned. Sandbags were to be distributed throughout the day, said Mr McGrath.
Council staff would be on duty throughout the weather event and Gardaí would be operating rolling road closures from early morning. Carparks in Salthill were closed today, while tow trucks were on standby to remove any vehicles not moved by their owners before the high-risk period.
Chief Supt Curley said it was imperative people stayed home where possible.
The best way to say safe was to “leave the bicycle or the car in the driveway” from early tomorrow morning, and to stay indoors until the worst of the storm had passed.
Met Éireann has warned of potential for flooding in the West, with Storm Barra bringing “severe or damaging gusts” of up to 130km/h.
A Status Orange wind warning has been issued for Galway, Clare, Limerick, Kerry and Cork from 6am Tuesday to 6am Wednesday, with southerly winds, later becoming northwesterly, with mean speeds of 65 to 80km/h and gusts of up to 130km/h possibly higher in coastal areas.
“High waves, high tides, heavy rain and storm surge will lead to wave overtopping and a significant possibility of coastal flooding. Disruption to power and travel are likely,” Met Éireann said.