Last Saturday night, 2nd March, Canadian scientist Jessica Ernst gave a presentation in Leitrim village. A big crowd, around 150-200 people warmly welcomed her, the talk ending by a standing ovation. Staying in Ireland and United Kingdom until 12th March, she has come from Rosebud (Alberta) in Canada to tell her story, her struggle against oil company Encana.
She herself worked in the oil and gas industry for 30 years until this petroleum company shallow-fracked close to her house.
As well as contamination of Rosebud’s drinking water, air pollution, illnesses, flaring noise, traffic… Jessica told of the dreadful impacts on her community. Most of the people stay silent, too afraid to talk and sometimes are paid for their silence. Encana considers her a terrorist, and the Canadian government denies the facts: “Your water is the cleanest in the world, nothing is wrong, it’s brown because you use too much water”, she was told. Jessica chose to go down the legal route and is currently suing the Canadian authorities for unlawful activities related to hydraulic fracturing. Her victory would be the first in the world. The struggle is exhausting: “Canada has fracked the head off Lady Justice. That’s how bad fracking is!”, she declared.
Before her lecture, a National Meeting of groups and individuals campaigning against unconventional gas extraction took place in Leitrim community centre. People came from Dublin, Cork, Clare, Wexford, Sligo, Donegal and elsewhere. Representatives of Making a Real Difference – Ireland (M.A.R.D.I) were there as well. Everyone worked on common concerns such as a strategy plan, internal and external communication, shared ideas and planned next actions.
Jessica joined the meeting towards its end and emphasised the importance of writing letters to Government and local representatives on every issue of concern. “A hand-written letter is worth dozens of type-written letters that you just sign. They pay attention to all letters personally written. Send thousands from the campaign, make your voices heard. ” she said.
Many groups, including Good Energies Alliance Ireland, had information stands and a flyer at the meeting. Following the meeting there was a short presentation on GEAI aims, actions and plans for 2013.
Programme of Jessica’s next talks:
Ennis: March 4th. Old Ground Hotel, Co. Clare. 8pm
Belfast: March 6th. Queens University, Peter Froggatt Center. 7pm
St. Annes: March 7th. United Reformed Church, St. Georges Road, Lancs 7pm
Balcombe: March 8th. Church of England Primary School, London Road, RH17 6HS – 8pm until 10pm.
Dublin: March 10th. Gresham Hotel, O connell Street Dublin, 11-6pm. Hosted by Richard Boyd Barrett TD & Chair of Save our Seafront with speakers from Norway, An Taisce, SIPTU, The Woodlands League and more. Full programme
Dublin: March 11th. NUI Maynouth, 1pm, (Hall E, NUIM Campus, bring lunch). Hosted by Friends of the Earth: Smock Alley Theatre 7-9 pm, Exchange Street Lower, Temple Bar, Dublin 2.
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