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Green MLA disappointed parties did not sign petition to force fracking on to executive agenda

Green MLA Steven Agnew has expressed his disappointment that other Assembly parties did not sign a petition which would have pushed the issue of fracking in Northern Ireland onto the Executive’s agenda.

Today (May 13) marks the deadline for a petition which needed to attract 30 cross-party signatures to force the Executive to discuss Fracking, but enough MLAs from other parties failed to sign up.

“When I first launched this petition on April 10, 2014, there was a wave of public protest and expressions of concern and many MLAs received hundreds of lobbying emails from members of the public calling for a ban on fracking.

“None, except Michael Copeland and Robin Swann, have acted on behalf of their constituents who have asked them to sign my petition.

“I’m very disappointed that parties who claim in public to oppose fracking did not take this opportunity to put the issue before the Executive,” Mr Agnew said.

“This petition would have challenged DETI Minister Foster’s decision to extend the drill or drop period.

“But for Minister Foster’s intervention, shale gas exploration company Tamboran would have had to relinquish its license and there would no longer be a prospect of fracking in Fermanagh for the foreseeable future.

“The electorate has a right to know ahead of the elections where parties stand on Fracking because for many citizens it will influence where they invest their vote.

“The citizens of Northern Ireland deserve clarity on all parties’ policies on this important and controversial issue.

“My petition would have forced fracking onto the Executive’s Agenda for discussion.

“This would have given the electorate the chance to find out exactly what other parties policy is on Fracking.

“It would have also provided the opportunity to challenge Minister Foster’s solo run on decisions regarding the development of Fracking in Northern Ireland.

“The majority of parties in the Executive claim publically to oppose Fracking and the Assembly has already voted for a moratorium.

“Arlene Foster had previously stated that this is a “controversial and cross-cutting issue” and will come to the Executive – if she was genuine this was the perfect opportunity to bring it before the Executive

“The issue of Fracking has never been discussed or decided at the Executive and the people of Northern Ireland have not been allowed to have their say either.

“With such and impactful and potentially destructive process as Fracking, this lack of consultation is an affront to democracy.”