HUNDREDS of people have marched through the streets of Limerick against Irish Cement’s controversial plans for its Mungret plant.
The protest took place this Sunday lunchtime and was organised by the Limerick Against Pollution (LAP) group, which has been steadfast in its opposition to Cement’s plan to switch the source of fuel it uses in its plant.
The company is planning to switch away from fossil fuels at Mungret and instead use tyres and solid recovered waste in the production of cement.
Although An Bord Pleanala has given the green light to the proposals, the EPA is still deliberating on awarding the firm a licence to operate.
After a series of speeches at City Hall on Merchant’s Quay, the crowd of several hundred made its way up O’Connell Street and into the People’s Park, gathering more people to its ranks as it travelled.
Speaking to the Limerick Leader at City Hall, Claire Keating of LAP, noted that the deadline for objections to the Environmental Protection Agency, which is charged with awarding Irish Cement an operational licence for its €10m plans, had been extended from May 16 to September 5, and said “we are challenging the licence application and we are hoping to get as many people behind us to object to the licence.
“We have close to 3,000 objections lodged to date and it is to build up momentum and hopefully get another two or three thousand before the deadline - which has been extended,” she said.
“We have more time to gather more objections and submissions and that is what today is about, raising the awareness that we still have time to stop this.”
Raheen resident Deirdre Hussey said she was so concerned by the plans that would consider selling her house and taking her daughter out of school.
“I am just scared, I am scared for the future of my children, their health and I just feel like we will be looking back in ten years time and saying why didn’t we do something now to stop it,” she said.
“I just think that is seems to be money over health at the moment. I wanted to come and show the company that we mean business and that we are not going to go away,” she added.
Irish Cement has long insisted its proposals will not impact the environment, due to the fact burning will take place at a high temperature.
It has responded to a flyer that was distributed locally in advance of Sunday’s protest march, saying that “having access to factual information will allow for more informed discussion and debate”.
The company said there were a number of “inaccurate statements on the flyer” distributed ahead of the demonstration organised by LAP and relating to the proposed new processes in Mungret, which have been the source of controversy for some time.
Brian Gilmore of Irish Cement said: “While Irish Cement recognises that people may have concerns about the current fossil fuel replacement plans in the Mungret cement factory and that individuals have the right to express their opposition, we believe that having access to factual information will allow for more informed discussion and debate.
“Irish Cement would like to also draw people’s attention to An Bord Pleanála’s comment in its recent planning decision, that the project ‘would not be prejudicial to public health, would be acceptable in terms of traffic safety and convenience, and would be in accordance with the proper planning and sustainable development of the area’,” he added.