Irish Examiner - 17-01-04
By Mícheál Lehane – Irish Examiner
DOWN near Gobby Strand in Ringaskiddy yesterday, people
nervously laughed when they heard Indaver general manager John Ahern
say on radio that incinerators don’t harm your health. The strand
is just a field away from the site where the Belgian-owned company
“There are 120 overseas companies within the pharmaceutical
and chemical sector in
Men, women and dozens of children, who gathered to protest at the controversial Bord Pleanála decision, listened to car radios for the latest news on the issue that has dominated their lives for almost three years.
In the distance, smoke billowed from the tall chimneys that crudely dot the Ringaskiddy skyline.
There are already five smaller incinerators in this area and worried locals won’t accept any more.
Audrey Hogan admitted she cried yesterday when she heard an incinerator will be built close to her home in Ringaskiddy. The 41-year-old went into her room and told her two teenage children she was going to cry her eyes out for half an hour. “I was very upset for a while but then became really angry. I could hit someone now, that’s the way I feel,” she said.
After taking an hour to come to terms with the news she vowed to step up her fight against the plant.
“I’m willing to go to jail to stop this. There’s only one way into Ringaskiddy and we’ll block all the roads if we have to,” she said.
Ms Hogan’s anger was typical of the feelings felt by Ringaskiddy residents.
Gertie O’Driscoll is worried for the health of her three young grandchildren if the incinerator in built.
“We’ve very good relations with other factories here, but an incinerator like this is just unacceptable,” she said. “This will damage the next generation and we can’t allow that to happen.”
Other protestors at Gobby Strand feared property prices in the area will fall.
Sineád O’Driscoll, 30, said: “Obviously my first concern is for my children but if this goes ahead no-one will want to buy a house here.”
Three-bedroom houses in the area are selling for around 180,000. But locals believe property prices could soon plummet.
This comes despite the building of the country’s new 50m maritime college across the road from the incinerator site.
“A lot of speculators have been buying up land around here because of the college. If the incinerator is built we don’t know what’s going to happen,” said Ger Twomey, who has lived in Ringaskiddy for 40 years.
Retired fire officer Braham Brennan, 51, said he never expected the decision to favour Indaver. “We all feel like we’ve been kicked in the stomach. We had done everything correctly and were confident we’d win,” he said.
But Kay Corcoran, 64, said locals won’t back down now. “We will get the money to fight this in the High Court. We have plenty of backers and there’s no way we’ll let this be built,” she said. Ms Corcoran insisted she doesn’t want the incinerator built anywhere else. “It’s Government policy to build incinerators but that’s wrong. It should be about recycling and looking at other alternatives,” she said.
Paddy O’Mahony, 50, who lives beside the incinerator site, said he can’t understand how Bord Pleanála overruled their own inspector. “It’s astounding how they ignored so many damning objections,” he said.
Cork Harbour Alliance for a Safe Environment, CHASE, said last night it’s taking legal advice before deciding what action to take next. “We’re shocked and angry. This will have to be looked at by a solicitor. It will require a massive fundraising effort to take it further,” spokesperson Linda Fitzpatrick said.
For some there is no doubt that a legal challenge will be mounted.
“It will be challenged. It has to be, there’s no way we’re going to sit back and take this,” Ringaskiddy native and father of three Stephen O’Driscoll, 36, said.
Harbour Alliance for a Safe Environment