Confidence growing over oil drill ban progress

Confidence growing over oil drill ban progress
People Before Profit TD Bríd Smith

People Before Profit is confident its bill aimed at banning future drilling for oil and gas in Irish waters can still succeed - albeit with certain amendments attached - despite it being cast into political limbo last month.

The joint Oireachtas committee on communications, climate action and the environment voted down a draft report on the motion before Christmas. However, the Petroleum and Other Minerals Development Climate Emergency Measures Bill remains live pending proposals on how to proceed, with the committee next meeting on Tuesday.

People Before Profit TD Bríd Smith will try to persuade the committee to put the report before the Dáil in the hope that it can, then, progress to a select committee of TDs only. People Before Profit's hope, then, would be that the bill would have a better chance of recieving the necessary votes to proceed to the Dáil. Fianna Fáil is expected to back the bill in a fresh vote.

On Friday, Ms Smith - as well as the Green Party - criticised government for giving exploration company Providence Resources the go-ahead to progress a licensing option off the west coast into a frontier exploration licence, which copper-fastens drilling activity on a prospect. However, Ms Smith said she remained hopeful that the bill aimed at banning such licences will progress, "despite the attempts of the Government to use procedural wrangles to stifle it."

The Green Party accused Fine Gael of "double-dealing" on climate by awarding the Providence licence whilst also claiming it wants Ireland to lead the way on climate issues.

"The gap between what Fine Gael says and what it does on climate has never been bigger...If Fine Gael are in any way serious about tackling climate breakdown they must work immediately to keep fossil fuels in the ground," said party spokesperson on climate, David Healy.

The bill was initially voted down with the opposition of senators Michael McDowell and Joe O'Reilly. The latter said ceasing exploration could damage the country's security of energy supply. Senator McDowell said a ban would be "deeply irresponsible" given Ireland's dependence on fossil fuels.

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