Labour condemns Govt's 'spurious and irrelevant' arguments delaying smoky coal ban

Labour leader Brendan Howlin has accused the Government of using "spurious and irrelevant" arguments to stall an outright ban on smoky coal.

Labour condemns Govt's 'spurious and irrelevant' arguments delaying smoky coal ban

Labour leader Brendan Howlin has accused the Government of using "spurious and irrelevant" arguments to stall an outright ban on smoky coal.

Mr Howlin accused both Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil of trying to use the issue for political gain and urged them to call off their political spat around smoky coal.

He said: "I think there is some sort of a view in Fine Gael now that by mixing up the issues of turf burning that they can somehow draw back their rural credentials that have been so badly damaged and I think it is more of a spat between Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael.

"But it's a spat that should not be carried on at the expense of 1,000 lives in Ireland every year."

The Labour party has put forward a motion calling for an immediate nationwide ban on smoky coal.

Although the promise to do away with the fossil fuel has been made by several previous ministers, Richard Bruton has said he has received advice from the Attorney General against this as the Government could face legal action from coal firms.

Mr Howlin said: "It's been a very slow process. It's going back to 1990 when the realisation of the burning of coal was causing incredible health issues for all our towns and cities that the ban started and a lot was to be completed some time ago.

"We regard it as entirely unacceptable that according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) up to 1,000 people are dying every year because of the burning of smoky coal in towns across the country."

"There is an extraordinary argument now being made by the Government that somehow to complete a project that is 30 years in the doing is going to have an impact on the burning of other fuels like timber or peat.

Why in God's name would it be lawful and not an issue to ban the burning of coal in Wexford town but somehow impossible to ban exactly the same fuel 14 miles up the road? That is absolutely daft.

"I think there is something much more sinister behind the argument from Government. I just don't understand it. If people want to take a legal challenge they would have taken a legal challenge by now because all our major cities are already affected by this ban."

Calling on all parties to support the motion, Mr Howlin said: "I hope we don't hear any spurious, irrelevant arguments from Government."

    Towns where burning smoky coal is now banned

  • Cavan: Cavan Town
  • Cork: Cobh, Midleton and Mallow
  • Kerry: Killarney
  • Longford: Longford Town
  • Mayo: Castlebar, Ballina
  • Meath: Ashbourne, Laytown-Bettystown
  • Offaly: Tullamore
  • Waterford: Tramore
  • Wexford: Enniscorthy

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