SINN Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald has reiterated her party’s opposition to the use of cyanide for mineral extraction.
Speaking to the Ulster Herald at the official opening of Sinn Féin’s new constituency office in Clogher, Ms McDonald referred to the ongoing controversy in the Greencastle area when she said local communities are entitled to a “safe living environment.”
In recent weeks Sinn Féin has been more vocal about its concerns over Dalradian’s plans to build a gold mine using cyanide near Greencastle.
Michelle O’Neill said the party is opposed to the use of cyanide in mining following a meeting with Dalradian earlier this month. Sinn Féin has also submitted co-ordinated motions to four local councils opposing the Dalradian plan, one of which will be debated at Fermanagh & Omagh District Council next week.
“You have to have a model which is sustainable and the use of cyanide is something we are absolutely opposed to,” Mary Lou McDonald said.
“At the end of the day, and particularly in a time when we are grappling with climate change where people are looking at making our world sustainable, public authorities absolutely should not give licenses or permissions to practices that will damage the environment in a fundamental way.”
Dalradian maintains that its proposal will be subject to strict environmental and safety regulations. Ms McDonald said she recognised the economic developments and job prospects that the Dalradian project could create but stressed, “You have to get it right.”
“Communities won’t be fooled, people have to live in these areas and raise their kids… they are entitled to a safe living environment.”
Referring to local concerns in Greencastle, Ms McDonald concluded, “Communities have every right, in fact a responsibility, to stand up and be counted and that’s what these people are doing.”
First review of Dalradian planning application completed
Meanwhile, government officials have completed a first review of the planning application submitted by Dalradian Gold for a gold mine and processing plant using cyanide in Greencastle.
The initial consultation on the application, which has so far generated over 10,000 objections, has been described as ‘generally supportive’ by the Canadian firm.
It comes after the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs recently highlighted a series of issues about mining safety with the company.
According to Dalradian, the Department for Infrastructure has issued a request for further information to help clarify the proposals.
The company says the Department has noted the ‘potential economic, benefits, skills developments and development of natural resources.’
Patrick Anderson, Dalradian’s CEO, said, “We’re happy to have completed the first major period of review and consultation on our application.
“Dalradian welcomes close scrutiny of our proposals, including a public inquiry at the appropriate stage.”
Other consultees include the Geological Survey of Northern Ireland which expressed “confidence” in Dalradian’s approach to demonstrate the nature and extent of the gold deposit.
Dalradian says it has been working on the project since late 2009.
Meanwhile, a Judicial Review into the pre-application consultation carried out by the company resumes at the High Court in Belfast on Monday.
Greencastle, Rouskey, Gortin Concerned Community Ltd is contending that the process carried out by Dalradian was ‘vague and ambiguous, and that the complexity of the scheme was such that it confused impacted residents.