25 July 2002 Edition

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County Managers overturn incinerator decisions

On Monday, two County Managers did their bit to subvert local democracy. Seamus Dooley, Wexford County Council Manager, announced in a press statement that he was overturning the majority of the elected county councillors, and the views of their constituents, by signing his approval of the South East Area Waste Management Plan. The decision forces through an incinerator in the place of the recyling composting measures which Wexford people have endorsedAnd then he went away on his holidays.

Donal Connolly, Manager of Waterford County Council took the opportunity to do the same. The Plan covers counties Wexford, Waterford, Carlow, Kilkenny and South Tipperary. The intention is to build a waste incinerator at Great Island, a site near Campile on the banks of the Barrow and Suir Estuary, which is also a deep water port.

Fears abound. In an interview with An Phoblacht, John Dwyer, local Sinn Féin councillor in New Ross, spoke of his worries. "Incinerators are commercial projects which cost a great deal of money. To earn a return, they have to be fed. Will we be taking in shiploads of waste to keep this one going so some EU private-owned corporation can make a profit?

"Why do they want to ruin the tourism, the agriculture, of this beautiful spot when it has been strongly shown that composting and recycling methods are cheaper, environmental friendly and waste less of our scarce resources? It makes no sense."

Opposition to incineration is very strong in the two counties, where people are expected to live beside it. Two months ago, there were over 400 people at a meeting in the small town of Fethard-on-Sea, called by the IFA.

"If that meeting is anything to go by, then people around here won't agree to the County Manager's scheme," said Dwyer. "The 5,000 people who voted for me at the last election don't want an incinerator in Wexford.

"What gave the Minister of the Environment the right to say that the word of the manager would count for more than the word of the people of Wexford and Waterford? Is that democracy?" says Dwyer. "Why do we have elections or a council at all if the people aren't let decide important issues which affect us all?

"Years ago now, the government tried to foist nuclear power on Ireland, with a nuclear power station at Carnsore Point. The then minister, Des O'Malley, famously said: "If the guards can't defeat a bunch of hippies, the army certainly can." But we won, and thankfully Ireland has no nuclear power station. The people of Wexford, I hope, will win again."

An Phoblacht
44 Parnell Sq.
Dublin 1