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25 May 2012 Edition

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Environmental campaigners say: ‘Give back dirty money’

Fracking firm’s €20k for business group’s hotel plan

Sinn Féin TD Michael Colreavy

The announcement on the website that it had accepted the cash was met with outrage by the local community

A LEITRIM business umbrella group has been urged to hand back a €20,000 cash donation from the company at the centre of the fracking controversy in the north-west.

Tamboran Resources, which has plans to carry out the controversial practice of hydraulic fracturing, known as ‘fracking’, has already donated €20,000 to Manorhamilton Enterprise Forum (MEF) towards the construction of a hotel in the Leitrim town. And Tamboran says it will continue to offer cash to other groups.

There has been widespread opposition to the proposed use of fracking in the area with many locals highlighting the environemental damage the practice has caused in other parts of the world. The drilling technique which involves the pumping of millions of gallons of water mixed with rock-dissolving chemicals deep underground to crack rock and release natural gas has been banned in a number of countries. It was banned in the US state of Vermont two days after Tamboran’s donation was accepted.

The Manorhamilton Enterprise Forum says it met a number of companies operating in the area to discuss the development of a small hotel. After a meeting with Tamboran, during which concerns were raised about the company’s fracking plans, the MEF was offered €20,000 towards its hotel project.

Sinn Féin TD for Sligo/North Leitrim Michael Colreavy told An Phoblacht that he was shocked and disappointed that MEF had accepted. He said the money looked like an attempt by Tamboran to ‘sweeten’ local opinion.

“When I first saw the statement on the forum’s website I thought it was a joke,” he said, “imagine taking money from a company to put towards a hotel in an area where tourism, agriculture and the environment will be destroyed by the activities of the donor.”

The TD also said he had since been made aware that the decision to accept the money was “made behind closed doors” and that most members of the Enterprise Forum were unaware of the decision.

The announcement on the MEF website that it had accepted the cash was met with outrage by the local community. One Manorhamilton resident posted: “There is no such thing as a free hand-out.” Another posted: “The business forum does not speak on behalf of our community.” One more added: “If you have any respect for our community you would hand that money back with a public apology from the very people who made this arrangement.”

The website for Manorhamilton Enterprise Forum was taken down soon after a wave of criticism but is now back up — with the ‘Comments’ section removed.

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