Minister backs farmers and ‘the community’ in Eirgrid dispute

Regina Doherty, the newly-appointed Minister for Employment and Social Protection, said that she supports the farmers and her community in disputes with Eirgrid in her constituency and surrounding areas.

In an interview on RTE Radio’s Morning Ireland this morning, Doherty said that the people of Meath, Cavan and Monaghan have been treated “disgracefully” by the power transmission operator over the past decade.

Doherty noted that she first ran for office in the general election in 2007, when she first became active. She explained: “One of the first political meetings I attended was in Trim in 2007, where there were over four thousand landowners, community representatives and normal people who were going to be starting negotiations with Eirgrid.

Ten years later we are no further on. Ten years later, Eirgrid, who have been tasked to build this north-south interconnector, are no further on to be able to build this.

This issue was brought up in light of comments Doherty made some months ago on the matter of “civil disobedience” from farmers attempting to tamper with Eirgrid’s pylon plans.

When asked if she supported civil disobedience, Doherty did not give a direct answer, instead underlining her support for the local communities she represents.

Doherty said: “I support the farmers, the landowners and my community to be able to make sure that they get treated with respect by Eirgrid, who are there to act on behalf of the people.”

Doherty elaborated, stating: “Nobody is going to break the law. Absolutely nobody is going to break the law but I’ll tell you what I can foresee – that the day Eirgrid arrives up to get access into somebody’s field, they won’t get access to it.

And the reason they won’t get access to it is because they haven’t treated these people with respect, so the sooner they start treating people with respect, maybe we’ll get the north-south interconnector built.

Doherty, who was Government Chief Whip prior to yesterday’s cabinet reshuffle, said that she is to meet with the management team in her new department today.