Sometimes, it can feel like working in community development is an uphill battle, with hard-won victories few and far between. Over the last few months, however, the sector’s enjoyed some major (and minor) successes.
Gas plant win for climate change campaigners
A planned €500m terminal in the Shannon estuary to allow the importation of liquefied gas – including contentious fracked gas – will, for now, not go ahead.
In February, the high court ruled that the European court of justice must look into the matter (taking the EU’s Habitats Directive into account) before construction can begin. That process could take two years.
The case was brought by Friends of the Irish Environment (FIE), which has a mandate under European law to protect the environment.
A 13-group coalition opposes the Shannon estuary development on environmental grounds and activists – including some who contacted us directly – were jubilant about the referral to Europe.
Campaign group Not Here, Not Anywhere said: “Given everything that is happening globally with the student strikes and the Green New Deal in America, there is definitely something in the air. The people are rising and building a global climate movement.”
When the developer Shannon LNG first secured planning permission in 2008, the impact on climate was not a major consideration for planners. That is changing.
Following the high court’s decision, the US company stated that it remained “committed to advancing this critical project for Ireland’s security and diversity of energy supply”.
We were unable to get a direct statement from the developer, whose website was down as we went to print.
Awards for Ireland’s best job creators: local people
On May 16th, a national awards ceremony was held in Tullamore, Co Offaly, to celebrate small enterprise successes among people who availed of the Back to Work Enterprise Allowance (BTWEA).
It is only the second event of its kind. (The first was held in 2016.)
Remarkably, among the 5,712 people who set up businesses with BTWEA in 2017 (the last year for which statistics are available), 3,116 were rural people.
As we said at the time, despite all the hoo-ha, it is not Google or the other tech giants that keep Ireland standing.
“Most employment in this country is provided not by tax-shy multinationals, but by small enterprises run by dedicated individuals who usually have their workbase in the local community,” we reported then.
It remains true.
Peace funding safe from Brexit
The EU has introduced a legal mechanism to allow current and future peace programmes for Northern Ireland and the border region to continue.
In late April, Minister for Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform Paschal Donohoe welcomed an EU regulation that allows for the continuation of the PEACE and Interreg programmes “even if there is a disorderly Brexit”.
He said that means that €550m in cross-border investment between 2014 and 2020 remains secure.
Post office anger in Tipp, and a bittersweet victory in Kerry
People in Tipperary are seething following An Post’s decision to relocate Thurles Post Office from the town square to a shopping centre on the town’s outskirts.
‘Large crowds’ marched in protest in March, it was reported by Tipperary media.
One irate local, Pat Morrissey from Ballinahow, told Changing Ireland: “Don’t mind what you hear about rural Ireland being looked after; it’s not.”
Meanwhile, in Baile an Sceilg on Kerry’s Iveragh peninsula, a community that campaigned hard (as did others) was celebrating because their post office had been saved.
Due to State obligations on An Post, the semi-state agreed to re-open a post office in a Gaeltacht area.
Of 159 post offices slated for closure, only four were successful in their appeals to An Post.
The four are in Ballycroy, Co Mayo; Cliffany, Co Sligo; Clogheen, Co Tipperary; and Baile an Sceilg.
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