Two South Tipperary opposition TDs have accused the government of political hypocrisy after postponing the decision of the preferred route for the Eirgrid pylons until after the European and local elections next May.
Once the government confirmed that the decision had been put off until after the elections, opposition TDs condemned the move.
Deputy Seamus Healy said the Government had cynically postponed a decision on the Eirgrid project until after the local and European elections.
“This will enable Fine Gael and Labour candidates in the European and local elections to pose as champions of the opposition to the project while that Fine Gael-Labour Government implements it after the elections” he said.
He accused Munster Labour MEP Phil Prendergast of “hypocritically championing the anti-pylon cause” while the government she supported, through Minister Bruton, was strongly advocating the over-ground lines and her Labour colleague Pat Rabitte was proceeding with the process in which Eirgrid is “judge and jury in its own cause”.
However MEP Prendergast said she was ‘anti pylon’ long before the postponment the Eirgrid decision.
“I have concentrated my time preparing a submission which I have been working on for over a month, and meeting with groups along the proposed Eirgrid routes, and considering there are four counties which I represent in these areas, this has taken a considerable amount of time. I have held over ten meetings to date with my Labour Party colleagues, and I certainly do not think this constitutes “jumping on a bandwagon”. There are two types of politics in question here, a politics whose currency is fear mongering or the politics of trying to change what is being proposed, I concentrate on the latter.I think that instead of trying to score political points all representatives in Tipperary and beyond need to work together to try to stop this awful proposal which poses a grave threat to families, communities and businesses all over the country,” said the Clonmel based MEP.
Deputy Healy said the project must now be suspended and a genuinely independent investigation carried out.
”Unless this is done immediately, European and local election candidates of Fine Gael and Labour must be held responsible for the government proposals being promoted by Minister Rabitte and defended in the Dáil by Labour leader Eamonn Gilmore.
Independent TD Mattie McGrath said the decision by the Government to delay making a final choice on the controversial routing of Eirgrid’s overhead pylons until after the May local elections was one that smacks of political cowardice and hypocrisy.
“There is simply no way for the Government and in particular for this Labour Minister for Communications to spin this postponement that will not look like the desperate act of cowardice that it is. What we have here is an unequivocal example of putting the electoral interests of the Government ahead of the health, property and tourism concerns that tens of thousands of people across the country have given voice too.
Deputy McGrath said that Minister Rabbitte in particular was being deeply hypocritical given his recent statements that have at least hinted of the need for more meaningful consultation with the public.
“The Government know that this is a hugely significant issue at local level right across the country and yet instead of standing in solidarity with the people they have chosen to cravenly duck away from the kind of robust public engagement that happens at local election time.,” he said.