A Labour Party Senator who will be living within close proximity of the EirGrid pylon corridor should it run just north of Carrick-on-Suir, has defended his decision not to break with coalition ranks in the Seanad last week.
In a statement to The Munster Express, Senator Denis Landy re-iterated why he didn’t back a motion forwarded by Senator Ronan Mullen calling for all high-voltage cables to be laid underground “wherever physically possible”.
This came in the wake of some thinly veiled criticism directed at Senator Landy at a public meeting held in Carrick-on-Suir’s Strand Theatre on Friday last where his position was described as “lily-livered”.
Re-iterating his opposition to overhead pylons, Senator Landy claimed that Senator Mullen’s private members motion in the Seanad “was nothing more than sentiment”, albeit one he “maybe” agreed with.
According to Senator Landy: “Both Senator John Kelly and myself met with (Communications) Minister Pat Rabbitte for an hour and half on Wednesday morning last where I looked for a stronger counter motion which would have stated ‘undergound where necessary’ and not ‘where possible’.”
When it became evident that Minister Rabbitte himself was not about to furnish either Senator with such a commitment, both Senators Landy and Kelly told the Minister that they would abstain from the vote.
“And while we did abstain from Senator Mullen’s motion, both Senator Kelly and I abstained from the Government’s counter-motion, which meant we were both defying Government policy in the house,” added Senator Landy.
He insisted: “Both motions were too weak, as they didn’t deal with the devaluation of people’s property, nor the fact that some of these properties were going to be sterilised because of the pylons, and finally, neither dealt with the health implications for the ordinary decent people involved in all of this.”
Senator Landy contended: “I believe that Senator Mullen just wanted me to lose the party whip by voting for his motion, but if I had taken such a course of action, then my voice would never be heard within Government on this issue…and I believe I am better serving the issue and the people of South Tipperary by remaining ‘within the tent’, so to speak.
“So I will continue to campaign on this issue, and bearing in mind that this project will not be coming to fruition for a number of years, time remains on my side.”
Quite how those comments will resonate with local politicians and voters alike who attended last Friday’s meeting in the Strand Theatre remains to be seen.
“We’ve a Senator out the road,” Carrick Town Councillor Pierce O’Loughlin told the meeting, “and he lives on the Deadman’s Boreen – and this line could end up running over his house – is he happy with that? Yet he chose to abstain from a vote on this matter in the Seanad. I’d advise you all to talk to him.”