Company seeks more balance

THE report by Jimmy Woulfe, headed ‘Green party suspects cover-up of health problems’ (Irish Examiner, February 4) stated that Pat and Nuala Geoghegan had started legal proceedings against Aughinish Alumina.

This is correct and necessarily restricts any response from us.

However, that bare statement, in combination with only one side’s allegations and a photograph showing the Aughinish plant in the background, creates such an unbalanced description of the actual situation that it demands a response.

Your reporter and your paper are well aware of the scope of the legal proceedings taken, having received a statement from Aughinish Alumina on January 20 last.

We repeat the statement here for the benefit of your readers and in the hope of adding some balance to the issue:

“Aughinish Alumina Ltd confirms that it has been served with a High Court summons issued on behalf of Patrick Geoghegan, his wife, Nuala, and their children of Boolaglas, Askeaton, Co Limerick.

“The other defendants are Ireland and the Attorney General, the Minister for Health, the Minister for the Environment, the Minister for Agriculture, the Industrial Development Agency of Ireland, the ESB, the Midwestern Health Board, the Environmental Protection Agency and Limerick County Council.

“The basis for the claims being made against the company and the other parties is not entirely clear from the summons. Mr Patrick Geoghegan, as part of the so-called Cappagh Farmers’ Support Group, has made various, extremely serious allegations against a number of entities for some years now. These complaints have been widely reported in the media.

“While others have refuted these complaints, Aughinish Alumina felt it would be inappropriate to respond in detail in the media and thereby give greater publicity to the complaints than was warranted. This is still the case.

“However, Aughinish Alumina is absolutely satisfied that its operations have not and could not give rise to any cause of action by the Geoghegans.

“The biggest and most extensive independent investigation in the history of the state, established by the Department of Agriculture and co-ordinated by the EPA, reached the same conclusion some years ago.

“The Geoghegans are entitled to bring their grievances to court if they wish. The company will be defending itself vigorously against what it considers an unfounded action against it.

“To a degree, Aughinish Alumina welcomes the issuing of the summons as a conclusive legal determination may be the only way to lay this matter to rest.”

Pat Lynch

Public Affairs Manager

Public Affairs Department

Aughinish Alumina Ltd

Aughinish Island

Askeaton

Co Limerick

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