SENATOR FEARGAL QUINN has proposed that Ireland should allow fracking to happen here because it would create jobs and give us access to billions of euro worth of natural gas.
Independent senator Quinn – who founded the Superquinn chain – was speaking in the context of a Seanad debate/thinktank on how best to create more jobs in Ireland. One of his suggestions was for people to consider allowing fracking, a process of extracting natural gas by pumping chemical fluids at high pressures into the covering rock and break it open.
Last July, TheJournal.ie reported on fracking and proposals to introduce it to Ireland – and the opposition from local and environmental groups to the practice. There are “serious concerns” that the environmental consequences of the hydraulic fracturing of the rock would be huge. There have been protests in the US over contamination of the water table as a result of fracking practices.
However, Quinn asked yesterday: “What if we were to allow it in Ireland?” He said it would create hundreds of jobs and allow us to tap into a €210bn natural resource under the rocks of several counties. He said that he was asking people to show “pragmatism” and “patriotism” and allow a debate on how fracking might work for Ireland.
He also suggested that the Government could encourage companies who carried out fracking here to be responsible by making them put up a bond equal to the potential clean-up cost of any environmental damage. He went on to argue that “the earth has survived for billions of years” and that “the earth is about resources”.
In the Seanad yesterday, Fianna Fáil senator Paschal Mooney responded to Quinn’s suggestions by saying that he was “totally opposed” to fracking, as is his party. He said that fracking as practiced in the US “would result in untold damage to the water courses”. He said that while Quinn had a point about the wealth of natural resources lying under Ireland, the technology to access them was not yet advanced enough to be considered.