‘Loads of people knew’ about the biggest illegal dump in Europe

Former Environment Minister Mark Durkan at Mobuoy with Alan Warwick, Northern Ireland Environment Agency Water Quality Inspector.
Former Environment Minister Mark Durkan at Mobuoy with Alan Warwick, Northern Ireland Environment Agency Water Quality Inspector.

People Before Profit MLA Eamonn McCann has claimed “loads of people knew” 1.2million tonnes of waste was being illegally dumped on the banks of the Faughan prior to its official public disclosure by former Environment Minister Alex Attwood in 2013, and has claimed the environmental debacle on the outskirts of the city is an example of the “rapacious capitalism despoiling our country and our countryside.”

In his first speech as a private member at Stormont, Mr McCann warned MLAs that if they hadn’t heard of Mobuoy Road they will “know all about it before the year is out.”

“Ideologically, economically and politically, what we are witnessing is a clash between the interests of business - of profit - on the one hand, and the interests of the people on the other.

“This is about rapacious capitalism despoiling our country and our countryside.

“That is what is happening here,” said Mr McCann.

The Foyle MLA claimed the suggestion that no-one knew what was happening was incredible.

“Members of the Assembly, you do not dump 1.2 million tons of waste out of sight, or, as we say around Derry, ‘unknownst,’” he said.

“Loads of people knew that was going on - it is a wide area. The former Minister, Mark H Durkan, was good enough to accompany me and members of Friends of the Earth, the River Faughan Anglers, the Enagh Youth Forum and many others from around the area on a tour of what is there.

“I tell you this: you should go and see that dump. See the lagoons, as they are called, where water is gathered. See the bubbles coming up from below. These are not little bubbles like a fizz; these are huge bubbles,” he added.

The new Londonderry MLA also complained that a pristine strip of native woodland that had once run from the southern end of the East bank as far as Strabane has also fallen foul of the profit motive.

“All that is left of Prehen wood is a little clump of pristine greenery along the banks of the Foyle, just outside Derry. It is being treated in exactly the same way as this area of Woodburn forest, which is another little forest. It is the last pristine piece of forest in what was once a forest running all the way from Derry to Strabane, and it is all cut down and destroyed.

“We have this little place; it has red squirrels, it has buzzards, it has badgers. When I was a kid, it was known as the ‘Bluebell Wood,’ because you would collect an armful of bluebells. All the kids did that and took them over Craigavon Bridge home. The magical thing was that, when you came back the next week, they had returned; it was still carpeted with bluebells.

“That is under threat. That is something precious. You cannot put a price on that experience. People are entitled to beauty as well as bread, a house to live in and all the rest of it. We are destroying the beauty that has been bequeathed to us by nature.”