Independent TD Mattie McGrath has said the decision by the Government to delay making a final choice on the controversial routing of Eirgrid’s overhead pylons through the country until after the May local elections is 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,” said Deputy McGrath.
He said Minister Rabbitte is being deeply hypocritical given his recent statements that have at least hinted of the need for more meaningful consultation with the public.
“An election is the best way we have of consulting with the public and yet it is being avoided. Why? It is questionable, to say the least, how anyone can take what he is saying on these issues even remotely serious after this farce of a postponement. 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. The decision speaks for itself really.”
Under Eirgrid’s Grid Link proposals, almost 1,300 pylons will run across the country from Cork to Great Island in Wexford, to Dunstown, Kilcullen, Co Kildare on a cross-country corridor yet to be decided. However, it has been confirmed further routes will link the Dunstown hub with the greater Dublin area and the UK. The project has given rise to serious divisions within Government parties concerning the impact the project is likely to have at both environmental and electoral level:
“This whole process has been marked by disingenuous behaviour right from the beginning. We have had a charade of a public consultation process, a Minister for Communications who has practically acted as a de facto spokesperson for Eirgrid and now we have the Minister for Jobs entering the fray with a kind of blackmailing rhetoric in relation to the prospects for employment for those areas which ‘accept’ the construction of overhead pylons. However even at this late date I want to encourage everyone possible to contact Eirgrid and their local representatives before the public deadline submission tomorrow. We need to make it clear to all those running for local election that if they try to dodge the issue in terms of a commitment to oppose this project then that will count against them. Only in this way can the sort of evasions and half-truths which we have had to endure up to now be avoided,” said Deputy McGrath.