Michael Fisher  Northern Standard  Carrickmacross News Thursday 16th April

Application relates to the Ground Floor of this building Photo © Michael Fisher

Application relates to the Ground Floor of this building Photo © Michael Fisher

Planners in Monaghan County Council have received a fresh application to open a private members gaming club in a vacant commercial unit off the Main Street in Carrickmacross.

The planning notice was posted a week ago on the proposed site by a local architect on behalf of Carrick Gold Mine Ltd and received on Monday by the Council. This time a notice was posted on a car park gate that is visible from the Main Street. The new application seeks full planning permission for a change of use from an existing ground floor commercial unit to a private members gaming club with external signage, and including all other associated site works. The premises is situated beside the car park at the rear of Carrickmacross Shopping Centre at Drummond Etra, Main Street. At the February meeting of the Carrickmacross-Castleblayney Municipal District, the five Councillors present had expressed their objections to the proposal. Planners subsequently requested additional information from the applicants.

New Planning Notice on Shopping Centre Car Park Gate, Main Street Carrickmacross  Photo © Michael Fisher

New Planning Notice on Shopping Centre Car Park Gate, Main Street Carrickmacross Photo © Michael Fisher

The proposed Private Members Gaming Club would provide card games like Baccarat and other games like Texas Holdem etc “for groups of dedicated card players”. It would the Club’s intention to have weekly Poker tournaments, some of which would be for local sports teams and associations, according to the application. The club’s facilities would be open to members only, who must be over eighteen. As part of the planning process, objections can be lodged with the planning department of Monaghan County Council during the next five weeks up until May 18th.


Flag of 46th Infantry Battalion UNIFIL at the National Memorial  Photo © Michael Fisher

Flag of 46th Infantry Battalion UNIFIL at the National Memorial Photo © Michael Fisher

Paráid Aire! Paráid Lig Amach! The Irish UN veterans and ex-servicemen were on parade and the commands and the response to them (Parade: Attention! Parade: Fall Out!) were carried out with military precision and bearing. Pride of place in the parade at Merrion Square was given to members of the 46th Infantry Battalion. Wreaths were laid at the National Memorial to members of the Defence Forces who gave their lives in the service of the state. It was a very fitting end to the Smallhorne and Barrett campaign, which has now been stood down.

The pyramid shape of the memorial, which was designed by Brian King and opened in November 2008, captures references to burial and is a standing testament to the dead. It also reflects the shape of a military tent. Within the pyramid, four bronze figures, representing all elements of the Defence Forces, stand guard over the eternal flame that emanates from the badge of the Defence Forces. The flame burns in perpetual memory of those members of the Defence Forces who have made the ultimate sacrifice.

Last July a parade by former soldiers was held in Ballsbridge to the US Embassy seeking the extradition to Lebanon of 71 year-old Mahmoud Bazzi, the main suspect in the murder of the two Irish soldiers Private Derek Smallhorne and Private Thomas Barrett in Lebanon 34 years ago.

Minister for Defence Simon Coveney welcomed the arrest later that month of Mr Bazzi. He said he hoped it was the start of a process to bring the alleged perpetrator of a “heinous crime” to justice and said the Irish government would do “everything possible” to pursue justice.

The ice cream seller originally from Lebanon, was arrested at his home in Dearborn, Michigan by US immigration officials. He was subsequently deported to Lebanon in January.

Private Smallhorne and Private Barrett were abducted and shot dead in 1980 in south Lebanon after their UN peacekeeping convoy was stopped by armed members of a Lebanese militia. A third soldier, John O’Mahoney, was shot and injured but survived. The killings were believed to be revenge attacks after Irish soldiers killed a Lebanese militia member in an exchange of fire.

“The United States Government is asserting that Mr Bazzi does not have legal status in the United States and should not be present in the United States,” Vincent Picard of US immigration told RTÉ Radio. The deaths of the two Irish soldiers “was part of the investigation” into Mr Bazzi, he said.

Pte Barrett’s daughter Karen Barrett said the family have sought justice for her father’s killing for the past 34 years and exhausted all avenues in the Irish legal system.

Defence Minister Simon Coveney described it as a “first step” on what will “possibly be a further long and difficult road”. He and the government would “ do everything possible to pursue justice” for the peacekeepers, he said. Mr Coveney said the matter had been “continually pursued” over the years with all available channels in the Lebanon and US by successive Ministers for Defence, Foreign Affairs, officials and military authorities.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny raised the issue with the Lebanese authority during a visit last year to Irish troops serving with UNIFIL, he said. He said thoughts should be with the families of Privates Barrett and Smallhorne whose efforts and those of comrades “have ensured this issue was never forgotten”.

Campaigning on the families behalf, the group called Justice for Smallhorne and Barrett, met with American officials in Dublin last June to request US action against Bazzi. Ms Barrett said the families were ‘eternally grateful’ to the support group for their commitment and described the 34 year campaign for justice as ‘extremely difficult.’

Bazzi entered the US just over 20 years ago without proper documentation and admitted lying to obtain lawful immigraion status. He could ultimately stand trial for the abduction, torture and double killings while serving with a Christian militia. Mr Bazzi was transported in January on a commercial flight from Detroit, where he had been living, to Beirut under escort by officers with the Enforcement and Removal Operations agency. He was handed over to Lebanese authorities. Reacting to the news Karen Barrett, daughter of the late Thomas Barrett, said at the time the Barrett family was delighted to hear the Lebanese authorities had now detained Mr Bazzi.

She said it has been a long fight for justice and they hope the Lebanese authorities would give them justice for their father, Derek Smallhorne and John O’Mahony (who was shot an injured in the incident). She added her father gave his life protecting the Lebanese and the family hope this matter will now be addresssed. Ms Barrett also thanked those who have assisted them getting to this point including Simon Coveney and the Justice for Barrett and Smallhorne campaign.

Minister for Defence Simon Coveney welcomed the arrest and detention of Mr Bazzi. “I believe that this is a significant step in the pursuit of justice for Privates Thomas Barrett and Derek Smallhorne who lost their lives while on United Nations peace-keeping duty in Lebanon almost 35 years ago. It is an important day for the families and I wish to commend them for their continued commitment to securing justice for their loved ones.”

Mr Coveney added be believed the development to be very positive. Privates Smallhorne and Barrett were on duty with the UN Interim Force in Lebanon near the Israeli border on 18th April 1980 when they were captured. They had been in a three-vehicle convoy that was stopped by the South Lebanese Army, which was controlling the war-torn region at the time and in conflict with the Palestinian Liberation Organisation. Tension was high in the area on the day of the attack as the peacekeepers moved supplies to a border post. Twelve days earlier clashes between the SLA and Dutch and Irish soldiers serving with the UN left an Irish man and a militia man dead. The SLA had vowed to avenge the killing.

The field officer director for the Enforcement and Removal Operations agency Rebecca Adducci said: “ERO will continue to focus enforcement resources on individuals who lie and commit fraud to gain status in the United States. This removal should provide a stark warning to those who seek to game the system to obtain immigration benefits. This removal is the culmination of a sophisticated and meticulous investigation by several ICE components,” said Marlon Miller, special agent in charge of Homeland Security Investigations Detroit. “ICE is committed to ensuring the United States does not serve as a safe haven for individuals seeking to distance themselves from their pasts.”

The Final Salute  Photo © Michael Fisher

The Final Salute Photo © Michael Fisher


Kate Beagan at The Doorway Gallery Photo © Michael Fisher

Kate Beagan at The Doorway Gallery Photo © Michael Fisher


Kate Beagan's 'House on the Corner'  Photo © Michael Fisher

Kate Beagan’s ‘House on the Corner’     €1200     Photo © Michael Fisher

MICHAEL FISHER Northern Standard Thursday 16th April p.34  Carrickmacross News

Kate Beagan's 'Storm on the Horizon'   Photo © Michael Fisher

Kate Beagan’s ‘Storm on the Horizon’     RESERVED €1800     Photo © Michael Fisher

When the Northern Standard visited Kate Beagan in January at her studio in Donaghmoyne overlooking Manaan Castle golf course, she was busy preparing to exhibit her work in London and Dublin. She concentrates on painting contemporary landscapes, inspired by scenes close to where she lives.

Kate Beagan's 'Perbeach in Winter' Photo © Michael Fisher

Kate Beagan’s ‘Perbeach in Winter’     €2600     Photo © Michael Fisher

Old houses and fields provide the inspiration for much of her work. As she spoke to me three months ago, she was working on a large canvas. So it was a delight to be able to see the finished work, ‘Perbeach in Winter’ displayed prominently at the Doorway Gallery in Dublin at the opening of her solo exhibition last Thursday.

Kate Beagan's 'A Shaft of Light'  Photo © Michael Fisher

Kate Beagan’s ‘A Shaft of Light’     SOLD €800   Photo © Michael Fisher

The gallery at South Frederick Street was opened last year by Deirdre Carroll and Denise Donnelly.

Owners of The Doorway Gallery, Deirdre Carroll and Denise Donnelly Photo © Michael Fisher

Owners of The Doorway Gallery, Deirdre Carroll and Denise Donnelly Photo © Michael Fisher

‘I came upon a Place’ features 33 of Kate’s colourful works, with prices ranging from €350 for a small canvas up to €2600 for the large painting. Among the visitors on the opening night were her sister Karen Carleton, manager of the Mill Theatre in Dundrum and the artist and poet Roisin Duffy from Sreenty near Carrickmacross.

Kate Beagan and her sister Karen Carleton Photo © Michael Fisher

Kate Beagan and her sister Karen Carleton Photo © Michael Fisher

Some of Kate’s previous works have been sold to private collectors. Others have gone to clients in the public sector, including the Office of Public Works, and the business sector. Kate went to the St Louis Convent in Carrickmacross. She went to art college in Galway but did not finish her degree.

'After the Storm' by Kate Beagan Photo © Michael Fisher

‘After the Storm’ by Kate Beagan      SOLD €1800      Photo © Michael Fisher

She emigrated to Australia, where she spent ten years before returning to Ireland and took up her brushes again. Kate is married to Kevin and they have two daughters in their early 20s and a son aged 17. Another solo exhibition is due to be held in Mullingar in September.

'The Way Home' by Kate Beagan for Jack & Jill Foundation Auction Photo: Zoe Kelly facebook

‘The Way Home’ by Kate Beagan for Jack & Jill Foundation Auction Photo: Zoe Kelly facebook

Kate was one of two County Monaghan artists who contributed to the ‘Pigs on Parade’ in March in aid of Jonathan Irwin’s childrens’ charity, the Jack and Jill foundation. Her pig ‘The Way Home’ was sold at auction for €950.

'Baba Muc' by Niamh O'Connor for Jack & Jill Foundation Auction

‘Baba Muc’ by Niamh O’Connor for Jack & Jill Foundation Auction

Niamh O’Connor a friend of hers and fellow artist from Ballinode also created a pig ‘Baba Muc’ that fetched €600.

Kate’s latest exhibition runs until Thursday April 30th so if you are visiting Dublin, it’s worth visiting the Doorway Gallery, which is close to Trinity College and Leinster House.

Opening hours from 10:30am to 6:30pm Monday to Saturday.

Her pictures, at least fourteen of which have already been sold and one reserved, can also be viewed on the gallery’s website:

Kate Beagan's Paintings at The Doorway Gallery, Dublin  Photo © Michael Fisher

Kate Beagan’s Paintings at The Doorway Gallery, Dublin Photo © Michael Fisher

Kate Beagan's 'A Wet Morning'  Photo © Michael Fisher

Kate Beagan’s ‘A Wet Morning’     €800     Photo © Michael Fisher

Kate Beagan and Joseph Murphy, Dublin, at The Doorway Gallery exhibition Photo © Michael Fisher

Kate Beagan and Joseph Murphy, Dublin, at The Doorway Gallery exhibition Photo © Michael Fisher


Mary O'Donnell listens to Dr James Heaney Photo © Michael Fisher

Mary O’Donnell listens to Dr James Heaney Photo © Michael Fisher

Monaghan poet Mary O’Donnell’s new collection of poetry, ‘Those April Fevers’ (Arc Publications), was launched last week at the Irish Writers’ Centre in Dublin. Dr James Heaney, a lecturer in English at Carlow College, introduced the poems and Mary herself read some of them. Chair of the Centre’s Board Liz McManus welcomed guests to the event. Among the attendance were a number of supporters of the William Carleton Society Summer School (two of them patrons) and several poets.



Frances Treanor, Tydavnet (middle), is congratulated by  her parents Sean and Anne, her brother Ronan (left) and twin sister Maeve (right). Photo: facebook

Frances Treanor, Tydavnet (middle), is congratulated by her parents Sean and Anne, her brother Ronan (left) and twin sister Maeve (right). Photo: facebook

Celebrations in Dublin this afternoon by my friends and neighbours, the Treanor family from Drumdart, Tydavnet in County Monaghan. I was working away in The Northern Standard finishing the Carrickmacross pages when news came through of the great achievement by 18 year-old Frances Treanor, a former student at the St Louis Secondary School in Monaghan. She has won top prize of €1500 in the 61st Texaco Children’s Art Competition, which I remember from my own schooldays.

Frances Treanor (Tydavnet) Self-Portrait in Ballpoint Pen: Overall Prizewinner in Texaco Children's Art competition Photo: Texaco Art webpage

Frances Treanor (Tydavnet) Self-Portrait in Ballpoint Pen: Overall Prizewinner in Texaco Children’s Art competition Photo: Texaco Art webpage

Her entry was a self-portrait drawn with a ballpoint pen. Congratulations also to Rachel McKenna also from St Louis Secondary School who won a special merit award in the 16-18 year-old category for her entry ‘The Script – Tired of Posing’ and wins €150 and an art box. Well done Sophia Goodman, Scoil Naoimh Éanna, Killanny, Carrickmacross, who came third in the age group 7-8 years old and to Kate Norton of the same age group and school who received a special merit award for ‘The Cute Kittens’.

It’s a double national success for Monaghan as Sarah Leddy from Inniskeen won first prize in the 11-13 category in the Irish League of Credit Unions art competition two months ago. Clearly there are some very talented artists in this county.

UTV Ireland carried the story as did The Irish Times, and this is their report:

A self-portrait drawn with a ballpoint pen has taken the top prize at this year’s Texaco Children’s Art Competition.

Frances Treanor (18), from Tydavnet, County Monaghan, a first-year fine art student at the National College of Art and Design(NCAD), won the first prize of €1,500 in category A (16 to 18-year-olds) for her drawing, Self Portrait.

Judging panel chairman Professor Declan McGonagle,director of the NCAD, called it a very powerful work drawn with the skill and delicacy of a master. He said it was a fantastically realised self-portrait, with a very intense stare. “It is a delicate use of the medium. Nearly every single strand of hair is represented,” Professor McGonagle said.

It is the third time Ms Treanor has entered the competition. She won second place in her age category in 2012, and last year her entry was selected for the Texaco Art Competition calendar.

The 21 top prize winners across seven categories were announced at the Hugh Lane Gallery in Dublin. Another 105 artists won special merit awards. The winners, ranging in age from five to 18, were chosen from 30,000 entries.

The competition, now in its 61st year, is the longest sustained sponsorship of art in Ireland.

“Each of you have achieved a very high standard, and you should be very proud of yourselves. I’d like to recognise the support that you received from your families, from your teachers and from the wider school community. And I’d like to acknowledge their commitment and encouragement that has helped to keep our competition so vibrant since 1955,” said Valero Ireland director James Twohig. The company markets fuel in Ireland under the Texaco brand.

This year, for the first time, one of the winning entries was made using digital technology. Oliwia Widuto (16), a student at Loretor College in Coleraine, County Derry, won the top category’s second prize of €1,000 for her work Gramps on Morphine.

“It doesn’t look like a digital work. It looks like a traditional work, but it’s done entirely through digital technology. It is a different kind of skill altogether, which is amazing as well,” Professor McGonagle said. The winners will receive their awards at a ceremony in the Royal Hospital Kilmainham in Dublin next month.

The 21 top prize-winning pieces will remain on display upstairs in the Hugh Lane Gallery until Sunday May 31st. In August, all 126 pieces will be on display in the Cork Vision Centre and in the Highlanes Art Gallery in Drogheda.

Results: Overall winner: Frances Treanor, St Louis Secondary School, Monaghan

Age 16-18 : 1st, Frances Treanor; 2nd, Oliwia Widuto, Loreto College Coleraine; 3rd, Janné Strydom, Gorey Community School

Age 14-15: 1st, Vitaly Dergachev, Wesley College, Ballinteer; 2nd, Lucy Deegan, Gaelcholáiste Cheatharlach, Carlow; 3rd, Cliona Fitzpatrick, Malahide Community School

Age 12-13: 1st, Nicole Forster, Wilson’s Hospital Secondary School, Multyfarnham; 2nd, Sadhbh Simpson, Loreto Dalkey Primary School; 3rd, Ethan Cheung, Bangor Grammar School

Age 9-11: 1st, Stephen Walsh, Ratoath Senior National School; 2nd, Orla Nolan, Newtown Dunleckney National School, Bagenalstown; 3rd, Charvi Goyal, Loreto Primary School, Rathfarnham, Dublin

Age 7-8 years: 1st, Laoise McDonald, The Paint Box, Barna, Co Galway; 2nd, Pippa McIntosh, Kinsale Art Academy; 3rd, Sophia Goodman, Scoil Naoimh Éanna, Carrickmacross

6 years and younger: 1st, Ciara Ward, St Malachy’s Primary School, Castlewellan; 2nd, Sean O’Reilly, St Anthony’s Boys National School, Ballinlough, Co Cork; 3rd, Poppy Love, Hansfield Educate Together National School, Huntsfield, Dublin

Children with special needs: 1st, Conor Marley, St Gerard’s School and Support Services, Belfast; 2nd, Róisín Murray, St Michael’s School Holy Angels, Chapelizod; 3rd, Michael Ahern, Our Lady of Good Counsel, Ballincollig, Co Cork


Patrick Kavanagh Portrait: PK Centre, Inniskeen

Patrick Kavanagh Portrait: PK Centre, Inniskeen


Monaghan poet, Mary O’Donnell, who has just published a new collection of poetry, will direct the annual Poetry Writing Workshop weekend at the Patrick Kavanagh Centre in Inniskeen on Saturday and Sunday 25th – 26th April. Mary’s seventh poetic work “Those April Fevers”, issued by  Arc Publications UK, was launched in Dublin on Thursday night at the Irish Writers’ Centre.

The weekend course is for anyone who has had the urge to write poetry. It’s about exploring the ideas and impulses that make you want to write, and about putting some of your ideas into practice. It is hoped that by the end of the course all participants will leave the workshop feeling ready to write something new the following week, and to see it through various drafts until it is completed.  The importance of drafting your work, and the importance of reading the work of contemporary poets will be discussed.  In brief, the journey between language and feeling is what  participants will  share in common over the course of the weekend.

Mary O'Donnell at the launch of 'Those April Fevers'  Photo © Michael Fisher

Mary O’Donnell at the launch of ‘Those April Fevers’ Photo © Michael Fisher

Mary O’Donnell was born in Monaghan and attended the St Louis Convent and St Patrick’s College, Maynooth. She is also a novelist and her publication last year, “Where They Lie” (New Island Books), was described by Carlo Gébler as “marvelous and troubling”. This novel takes as its subject the trauma of a Protestant family in Belfast in the wake of the disappearance of their murdered loved ones. Other works by her include the best-selling novel “The Light-Makers”, “Virgin and the Boy”, “The Elysium Testament” and the short story collection “Storm Over Belfast”.

She has won several prestigious prizes, including the Fish International Short Story Award, and the Listowel Writers’ Week Jameson Short Story Award. She was also a prizewinner in the V.S.Pritchett Short Story Competition, and the Cardiff International Poetry Competition. Other awards include the James Joyce Ireland-Australia Award (2001), as well as residencies at the Princess Grace Irish Library, Monaco (2007) and at the Irish College in Paris (2012). She was co-winner of the Irodalmi Jelen Award for Poetry in Translation (Hungary) in 2012. She is an experienced teacher of creative writing who lectures on the MFA programme at Carlow University, Pittsburgh.

The Patrick Kavanagh Centre is the venue for this weekend of creative activity. It is located in Inniskeen, which nestles among the Monaghan drumlins immortalised by Patrick Kavanagh, the village’s most illustrious son and one of Ireland’s best loved poets.

For information and booking: Phone +353 (0)42 9378560 or email: or check the website.

Patrick Kavanagh Centre Poetry Workshop Weekend

Patrick Kavanagh Centre Poetry Workshop Weekend



Michael Fisher

EirGrid substation at Ballykelly, Co. Louth near Inniskeen for North/South Interconnector Photo © Michael Fisher

EirGrid substation at Ballykelly, Co. Louth near Inniskeen for North/South Interconnector Photo © Michael Fisher

A group representing landowners and householders opposed to EirGrid plans for an overhead North/South electricity connector that would be routed through south and mid Monaghan met last night to arrange a fresh campaign against the proposals. A public meeting has been organised by the County Monaghan Anti-Pylon Committee to be held on Monday April 20th at Aughnamullen Community Centre, Lough Egish. All of the county’s TDs and councillors are being invited to attend. Committee member Nigel Hillis told the Northern Standard their opposition to the plans was stronger than before.

Last week EirGrid’s Chief Executive Fintan Slye visited Carrickmacross as the company announced its new draft strategy for the future development of Ireland’s electricity transmission grid. It included updated plans for the North/South 400 kV Interconnection Development that would cross five counties from Meath to Tyrone.

EirGrid banner for North/South Interconnector Photo © Michael Fisher

EirGrid banner for North/South Interconnector Photo © Michael Fisher

EirGrid and its Northern counterpart SONI (System Operator for Northern Ireland) are jointly proposing a new high capacity electricity interconnector between the two networks. The draft strategy says there remains a clear need for the North/South Interconnector, and that the existing preference for a 400kV overhead line is still the most appropriate solution for the project.

The development would link a substation at Woodland, Batterstown in County Meath with a planned substation in Turleenan, in the Dungannon area of County Tyrone. EirGrid intends to submit a planning application for the North/South Interconnector in the coming weeks. Currently there is only a single interconnector, that runs past Ballykelly on the Carrickmacross to Dundalk road in County Louth (a few kilometers from Inniskeen)  to Tandragee in County Armagh.

Shane Brennan of EirGrid (right) points out the route of the proposed interconnector Photo © Michael Fisher

Shane Brennan of EirGrid (right) points out the route of the proposed interconnector Photo © Michael Fisher

At their public information office in Carrickmacross, SONI Eirgrid Project Manager Shane Brennan from Clontibret explained to me that the new interconnector would increase the capacity and reliability of interconnection between the two networks. It would allow the two independent networks to operate together as if they were one system, thus improving competition, and securing the electricity supply throughout the island of Ireland. EirGrid maintains that operating the two networks as if they were one system will bring cost savings for all electricity consumers as larger electricity systems can be operated more efficiently than smaller ones.

The increase in interconnection capacity will also facilitate the development of wind generation, which will help achieve Ireland’s renewable energy targets. Last November EirGrid submitted its draft application to An Bord Pleanála for review.  The following month, An Bord informed EirGrid that it has reviewed the draft and that certain specified missing information was required to be submitted. Last month EirGrid sent in further information, as requested.

EirGrid pylon at Ballykelly, Co. Louth near Inniskeen Photo © Michael Fisher

EirGrid pylon at Ballykelly, Co. Louth near Inniskeen Photo © Michael Fisher

Meanwhile EirGrid has re-published its proposed line route which will form the basis of an application for planning approval to be submitted to the planning authority in the coming months. This follows a review of the December 2013 line design. The review resulted in some of the proposed pylon locations being re-positioned along the proposed route, but the alignment itself was not changed.

Maps have now been made available showing the proposed route in County Monaghan. It takes in parts of Kingscourt, Co. Cavan, Magheracloone, Corduff/Raferagh then on to a controversial section around Lough Egish. The route continues to Drumhowan, Doohamlet, Annyalla and Clontibret where it skirts the battlefield site and then joins the Northern grid in County Armagh.

EirGrid has opened three project information offices, including one at the Workhouse in Carrickmacross where those with an interest can  call in and meet the project team. The Carrick office on the Shercock Road is open on Mondays and Thursdays 12 noon – 6pm.

EirGrid information office Carrickmacross Photo © Michael Fisher

EirGrid information office Carrickmacross Photo © Michael Fisher

According to Fintan Slye of EirGrid, there remains a clear strategic need for a second north-south interconnector.
“We committed last year, to be open with people and find out what it is they want from this most critical of infrastructure.  We are now asking people to give us their views on our draft strategy”, he said. Mr Slye concluded: “EirGrid must ensure the necessary grid is in place to ensure that Ireland remains competitive – fostering economic growth, attracting new investments, and supporting indigenous jobs. It must do this without placing too great a burden on communities, or too high a cost on industry. When we have received people’s feedback we will submit this draft to the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources for its consideration before publishing the final strategy later this year.”

The County Monaghan Anti-Pylon Committee has been campaigning against the overhead route for the past seven years. It has argued that the lines should be placed underground. Nigel Hillis, an engineer, said the need for a new interconnector had not been identified by EirGrid and they had not persuaded people living in the affected area that it was needed. This was not the case with another major infrastructure development when the main N2 road was being improved with by-passes around Castleblayney and Carrickmacross.

He said there was still serious opposition to the plans. One of the main concerns from the start, he said, had been the scale of the project, because the size and topography of the small farms in the county had not been taken into account when the positioning of pylons was being worked out. He said EirGrid had not identified the need for having big pylons on top of hills, close to a farmyard or houses. (The company said the centre of the proposed high voltage line would be no nearer to a residence than 50 metres).

Mr Hillis questioned why EirGrid was suggesting that part of the proposed GridWest scheme (up to 30km) could be situated underground using trenches alongside roads. He claimed that people in Monaghan were being treated as second class citizens and said they wanted to be treated the same as others.

The Dáil Communications Committee chaired by John O’Mahony T.D. has invited EirGrid to appear before them in the coming weeks to answer questions about the North/South interconnector. Mr Hillis hopes his group will also be given a chance to put their views across as well. From the first day of their formation the committee had argued for an underground route and that was now feasible, he said, as this option was being considered for the other two major grid projects.

Eirgrid says there are technical issues with putting 400kV AC lines underground over long distances and there would be operational complexities. It maintains that underground cables for the North/South route would be too expensive and difficult to install. Local residents however think the cost to them, their livelihoods, their homes and to local tourism would be equally damaging.

Northern Standard Thursday April 9th p.31 with pictures by © Pat Byrne

Northern Standard Thursday April 9th p.31 with pictures by © Pat Byrne