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An artist's impression of the Indaver plan at Ringsakiddy
An artist's impression of the Indaver plan at Ringsakiddy
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Sea Echoes: What is meant by 'natural justice'

I asked the Minister with ‘Responsibility for Defence’, Paul Kehoe this past week for an explanation of his statement that: “The operational requirements of the Defence Forces will be reviewed in the context of the planning decision” about Indaver’s incinerator proposed for Ringaskiddy.

I also put this question to the Minister: 'Does the statement possibly mean that the closure/transfer of the operational functions and location of the Naval Base from Haulbowline Island will be considered?'

The reply from the Minister’s Press Office, on his behalf said: “I wish to acknowledge receipt of your query and advise that a response will be issued as soon as possible.” A week later, as I write this column, I am still waiting for an answer.

I suggested to the Minister that his statement was: "allowing Bord Pleanála to make a decision which may cause the operations of the Defence Forces, particularly the Naval Service on Haulbowline Island, to be reviewed.... in an issue with strategic implications."

These implications were identified by the Department of Defence itself in a submission to Bord Pleanála.

The role of a columnist involves raising and commenting on issues and, in the midst of the environmental battle about the incinerator, a core issue I believe, is the operation of the Naval Base. Contacts from within the Navy, though officers and ranks cannot speak publicly, have confirmed to me concern there about the situation, which were repeated to me in the past week.

Ministers and politicians cannot be expected to interfere with planning decisions.

However, where matters of national security are identified by the Department responsible for defence, decisions being made outside of Government are an issue about which lack of political focus is surprising.

Journalistic experience has made me wary of what exactly is meant by Ministerial statements. That is why I approached the Minister following Bord Pleanála’s latest announcement, in the past week that, in the interests of “natural justice” it was giving Indaver yet another opportunity to make further submissions about its proposal.

CHASE, the Cork Harbour Alliance for a Safe Environment, a major opponent of Indaver, described this as having “gone beyond a comedy of responses.” 

What, precisely, is meant by “natural justice?” My understanding of “justice” is fairness, with balance and merit being considered on all aspects of an issue. Bord Pleanála has not shown, according to opponents of Indaver, similar consideration to them.

Because of the political silence, I also put these issues in a question to the Leader of Fianna Fáil, Micheál Martin, through both the FF Press Office and his constituency office. The Press Office has not responded. His constituency office acknowledged the query, without further comment.

RNLI’S FISH SUPPER 

The lifeboats are looking for your help, by holding a Fish Supper! 

October 13-15 are the dates. Information online at: https://rnli.org/fish-supper 

EUROPEAN GOLD MEDALS FOR IRISH LIFEGUARDS 

Irish Lifeguards won seven gold medals at the European Surf Rescue Championships in Belgium. 

Irish Water Safety CEO John Leech says that nineteen countries competed at pool events in Bruges and beach events in Ostende. “Ireland also won 15 silver and 7 bronze, a marvellous total of 29 medals.” 

Tomorrow in ECHO SPORT SAILING – Cork’s chances in the All-Ireland Championships.

Email: tommacsweeneymarine@gmail.com