Johnny Fallon

Irish Political Commentator

James Reilly’s close supporters linked to electricity protest campaign

The debate over pylons rages across the country. People continue to have concerns about the effects on health from such pylons and the other side continue to say that no link has been proven. The debate will rage on. There is no doubt however that few people would be happy to have such electrical fields in close proximity to where they live. In recent days the Minister for Health James Reilly has been accused of a u-turn on pylons. He was also very concerned about the health effects of an interconnector running through his constituency. Indeed it would appear that the Minister and those close to him made every effort to ramp up opposition to such a development and had no problem listening to constituents concerns then.

Indeed Rush Community Council even took a case against Eirgrid in order to try and halt the development. At the time Ann McCrudden, a prominent supporter of Mr Reilly was leading the charge for the community council. Indeed her sister in law will be the FG candidate for Rush in the upcoming local elections. Eirgrid wanted to take up part of the road leading to her house for the project and after she refused they went the route of a compulsory purchase order. Quite understandably Ms McCrudden used all means she could to stop eirgrid in this action.

Before the 2011 general election James Reilly believed that the interconnector should be routed away from the residential area but after he was elected he could not deliver this. The local community then began a vigorous campaign to try and halt the process. A youtube clip of the community rally, attended by all local politicians including James Reilly can be seen at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ziQI3YXn1uw&feature=related

The good news for the community was that Eirgrid finally agreed to have an independent report carried out to look at the safety of the Interconnector project. A company called KEMA did this, but they found no health implications for the area. So surely this put James Reilly and others in the clear? They had done their bit and the case was proven? Alas, No, now this is where it gets really interesting.

Rush Community Council then enlisted the help of an academic Professor Anthony Staines to question the findings of the KEMA report as they clearly did not accept that there was no negative impact on health. As it turns out, Mr Staines is also another prominent supporter of Mr Reilly. Indeed here is a picture of him out canvassing for the good Minister

Reilly & Staines 2

That’s him in the jumper to the Minister’s right. Mr. Staines made a very strong argument about the cancer risk posed by such a project. You can see his findings here http://www.breakingnews.ie/ireland/underground-cables-could-increase-cancer-risk-say-campaigners-543835.html

Rush Community Council even went to the high court to try and stop Eirgrid but they lost. There is no doubt however that many of Minister Reilly’s close supporters are opposed to such electrical projects and very definitely believe that they pose health risks. Minister Reilly did nothing to stop or dissuade anyone from such a campaign. It would be interesting to hear what Minister Reilly actually thinks of such a protest because either he doesn’t believe in the actions of the people who support him or he doesn’t believe in the actions of Eirgrid, the government and Minister Pat Rabbitte.

All in all it just goes to prove that NIMBY is very much alive and well. Those pylons and electro magnetic fields are all fine just so long as they are affecting someone else.

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One thought on “James Reilly’s close supporters linked to electricity protest campaign

  1. Good blog post Johnny. It was a very contentious subject at the time as the technology that was used for the East/West Interconnector was underground armoured cabling (DC) which has less emissions than that of the overhead pylon variety (AC). So if the minister opposed the DC technology that was running through his adopted hometown of Rush and it was deemed to have lower emissions than AC, he must be having plenty of sleepless nights worrying about the impact the AC technology will have on the people living close to the pylons. I wonder when he will be involving himself in that campaign.

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