At a crunch make-or-break meeting, prominent members of the community of Moville pledged their support to the environmental group, Community for a Clean Estuary, in their 21-year battle with Donegal County Council over a proposed sewerage scheme.
Those at the meeting, held on Thursday night in the Moville GAA Clubhouse, included Nobel Peace Prize winner John Hume and his wife Pat, local politicians, members of the Community for a Clean Estuary group and local residents.
In a bitter blow last month to those opposed to the sewerage scheme, An Bord Pleanala gave the go-ahead for the controversial Carnagarve plant. But now with the support of the community intact the group have decided to launch one last appeal in the hope that they can have that decision dramatically overturned.
Group member and local GP Dr Don McGinley explained to the listening crowd how they have eight weeks from the time of the decision to lodge an appeal with the European Court of Justice.
“I spoke with a leading planner Peter Seedman in Dublin, and he explained how we can take this case to Europe, but it would normally cost about 100,000 euro. However, because of our situation, with his help we have secured a solicitor in Cork who has agreed to read the case and should we decide to proceed he will take on the case pro bono. However there would costs of about 5,000-10,000 euro, which we would have to pay ourselves.”
Local primary school teacher, Rose Kelly, said they couldn’t afford not to support the cause.
“This has been going for over 20 years now and if we still have a chance, we have to go for it. For the sake of the next generation we have to get the money gathered.”
Moville Community College Principal Anthony Duggan urged people to support the cause, saying: “It is worth stumping up the money to get the legal opinion alone. If they say it is not winnable then at least we know and we won’t have spent any more, but it is my view we should take this solicitor up on his offer and if he so recommends we should proceed.”
Similarly, Paul Fiorentini, principal of Carndonagh Community School, said he believed the group should pay what they can to halt the sewerage plant.
“5,000 - 10,000 euro will be hard to get but I think it would be very poor if we didn’t invest in this.
“I have four children and the shore and Lough Foyle is part of their heritage. I want them to enjoy what I have for so long. I don’t want to look back in 20 years’ time and tell them what used to be here.”
Local resident, Philip Cavanagh, who has been involved in the campaign from the early days, said he never thought he would be out marching with placards, but he was not going to lie down and let this go ahead.
Ciaran Boyce, who is now a member of the Community for a Clean Estuary’s finance committee, said he believed nobody outside the meeting would contribute money towards the cause.
“I think there are about 30 households in this room tonight, and I think there is about 40 involved altogether.
“We’re looking at a case where we are going to have to put our hands in our pockets and pay 250 - 300 euro of our own money to take this case to Europe.”
Before they left, the residents all signed a commitment to the cause, including paying for any costs involved themselves.