Statement by Mid-Ulster Councillor Denise Mullen on gold mining and processing in Greencastle, Co. Tyrone
Aontú Councillor Denise Mullen opposes the use of sodium cyanide in gold mining in Co. Tyrone and calls on the civil service to take responsibility in the planning process:
"I am deeply concerned over the events of the past week concerning the modifications to the planning application for the gold mine and processing plant in Greencastle, County Tyrone.
"I refer to the advice of the Public Health Agency which warned the Department for Infrastructure that the use of sodium cyanide could lead to instances of rapid death. I am demanding a meeting with the Chief Executive of the Department for Infrastructure to explain why this critical information was not in the possession of the Department or Dalradian Gold when the planning application was introduced in November 2017.
"There are clear questions to be asked of the DfI. Had it not being for the experts in the Public Health Agency who realised the critical problem, this appalling oversight could have developed into life threatening circumstances. Senior officers within the DfI have being playing a sinister game of 'Russian Roulette' with the lives of the communities in and around the Greencastle area. It is totally unacceptable both in the terms of public health and moral ethics. I call for the immediate suspension of those senior officers from dealing with this problematic planning application and I suggest that the head of the Civil Service steps in and appoints experts in gold mining to reassess the application. If they are not satisfied then the application should, as a matter of protecting public safety, be struck out.
"I congratulate the communities of Greencastle and surrounding areas for their consistent assertions that the planning application for a gold mine in Greencastle is inherently dangerous and that any attempt to bulldoze through this most appalling of planning applications is clearly a fundamental breach of human rights. There are a plethora of these types of applications coming to the fore in the border counties and it is a critical matter for concern that those employed to oversee these applications are not up to the task of protecting the public from risk.
"I will be inviting my party leader Peadar Tóibín TD to visit the affected area of Greencastle to offer assurance that Aontú will not tolerate a policy of playing fast and loose with people’s lives. We will ensure that this matter is raised in the Dáil and seek the Irish government to act in support of the affected communities."