Richard Lynch, founder of ilovelimerick (second from right) pictured with members of Limerick Against Pollution at the March for our Lives protest on Saturday, October 5, 2019. Picture: Dolf Patin/ilovelimerick.
‘March for Our Lives’, Limerick’s last hope for change
By I Love Limerick correspondent Kate Devaney
Thousands of Limerick citizens, businesses and politicians took to the streets on Saturday, October 5 in protest of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) decision to allow Irish Cement to burn 90,000 tonnes of waste in Mungret.
The protest was organised by Limerick Against Pollution (LAP), a group of concerned residents who live near the Mungret plant. The group’s spokeswoman, Claire Keating said, “they would appeal the EPA decision and, if necessary, they would take their protest to the European courts.”
There was not a clear path in sight as Limerick natives, both young and old, lined the streets with signs and banners to show their anger at the EPA for granting Irish Cement permission to ditch fossil fuels in exchange for burning tyres and waste.
You Spoke With Your Feet . Well done Limerick! ? https://t.co/4D4IRdtpFx
— Speak With Your Feet (@speakwithfeet) October 5, 2019
Even with the rain pouring down, the turnout was amazing and showed the passion of the Limerick people shining through a desperate situation. The streets of Limerick were adorned with people from near and far who came to make one last effort to overturn the EPA’s recent decision, which will be taking a huge step backward in Ireland’s Climate Action plan.
Greg O’Shea, the Limerick native, and Love Island 2019 winner, showed his support on the day, saying, “Hopefully we can all get together now and stop this, save Limerick and keep it green.”
Despite receiving over 4,000 objections, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) upheld a decision by An Bord Pleanala, as well as Limerick City and County Council, to allow Irish Cement burn used tyres, animal waste, sludge, plastics, and other waste at its plant in Castlemungret.
In the run-up to this protest, the decision was made despite many fearing for their safety, particularly for those areas closest to the plant which includes 4 schools and a public park.
Saoirse Exton, a Climate Activist with Fridays for Future Limerick, said, “We are being ignored, as the people. Our air is being put in jeopardy. I think it’s ridiculous that we actually have to protest today, I’m angry, I’m still in shock that this is allowed to go ahead. I’m here as a climate activist on behalf of Fridays Future Limerick because this is climate injustice.”
“I want the EPA to do what it says it will do and protect our environment,” she added.
Making a huge difference for our environment! @LAP_Limerick @speakwithfeet #KeepLimerickGreen #Limerickagainstpollution #speakwithyourfeet #ilovelimerick #lovinlimerick #lovelimerick #richardknows pic.twitter.com/cDWRECjD1x
— #LimerickTilliDie (@ilovelimerick) October 5, 2019
This isn’t the first time that Irish Cement has brought concerns to the people of Limerick. Irish Cement had 3 previous convictions and last December, Irish Cement was fined €4,000 following a guilty plea at Limerick District Court, for breaching their emissions industrial license. It was said, that a thick “glue-like” substance was found damaging cars and homes in the plants surrounding areas.
Helen O’Donnell, a Community Environmental Activist with Limerick Tidy Towns, said “It is amazing that people in Limerick have taken such a strong stand. A colleague and friend of mine is expecting twins in a few weeks. What kind of Limerick do I want for them? Not an environment where there is any likelihood of air pollution, caused by human error. Not a city or county where we bring other countries waste in here to burn.”
Following the large protest in Limerick, a meeting of Metropolitan area councillors has agreed a number of steps aimed at stopping the company’s plans.
These include a demand for an oral hearing with the EPA, a formal meeting with the HSE’s public health department and the seeking of independent legal advice on how to put a stop to the proposals.
Meanwhile councillors were told that they only have the power to revoke the permission given to Irish Cement if there is a change to the County Development Plan.
For more information about the Environmental Protection Agency, click here.
For more information about Irish Cement, click here.
To sign the petition against the EPA’s motion, click here.
For more stories about Limerick Against Pollution, click here.
Pictures: Dolf Patijn/ilovelimerick
Pictures: Anthony Sheehan/ilovelimerick
Pictures: Bruna Vaz Mattos/ilovelimerick