From Monaghan to Dublin and Wales for Direct Action against Fossil Fuels, in Campaign on Climate Change

In recent weeks, tens of thousands of people have engaged in direct actions against the fossil fuel industry, globally. Two members of Transition Monaghan, Mícheál Callaghan and Conan Connolly took part in demonstrations in Wales and Dublin. Mícheál Callaghan discusses the importance of such actions.fossil

Mícheál Callaghan (2nd from left) and Conan Connolly (on extreme right) Transition Monaghan were part of a protest at the climate camp protest at Ffas – y Fran coal mine in Wales.


We need to keep at least 80% of the known reserves of fossil fuels (coal, oil, gas and peat) in the ground to avoid dangerous climate change. This means not exploiting new fossil fuels, and scaling down current production by mid – century. Last December, world leaders agreed to take action to limit temperature rises to two degrees. Unfortunately, this pledge is not being met with the necessary action. This is why climate activists are now using their bodies to stand in the way of fossil fuel projects, closing roads and occupying power plants, and sometimes getting arrested in the process.



An exploratory drill for oil and gas has begun at Woodburn Forest, Carrickfergus, Co. Antrim. The company Infrastracta received a petroleum license by default, under Permitted Development Rights. This allowed them to begin the drill, without needing full planning permission, nor consulting members of the local community. This is despite the Aarhus Convention, which requires participation in decision making on environmental matters. A local campaign called ‘Stop The Drill’ has called for the license to be revoked due to new concerns over the chemical mix in drilling 2000 feet below the ground. Furthermore, Stop the Drill is extremely concerned about potential pollution of the water supply, as the drill site is only a few hundred metres away from a reservoir which supplies water to 130,000 people in the Greater Belfast Area.

Last weekend a collection of environmental groups staged a demonstration outside the Sinn Féin shop in Dublin, calling for the Party to do more on the issue. The message was that despite them having anti – fracking policies, they have been relatively silent on this issue in Stormont, and should use their position as the second largest party to do all they can to halt the drill.


Protest outside the Sinn Féin offices in Dublin calling for a more proactive approach by Sinn Féin politicians against fracking in Antrim. Group includes Chrissie Walker (2nd from left) and Mícheál Callaghan (3rd from left), both of Transition Monaghan.


At the start of May, Conan Connolly and I camped on unsheltered hillside, outside Merthy Tydfill in south Wales, next to the largest open cast coal mine in the UK. We joined about 400 other people at a climate camp, where we met with members of the local community opposed to the mine, and discussed the benefits of community owned renewable energy as a cleaner alternative to coal mining. On the last day of the camp, about 300 of us occupied and shut down the coal mine. The mining company wishes to expand the mine, which already represents a destructive abyss on the landscape. That morning, we awoke to the sound of police helicopters overhead, a reminder that what we were about to do was illegal. However, like an increasing number of activists, we felt it was justified as we can no longer support inaction on climate, when we only have such a small window left in which to act. Once in the mine, we unrolled a large red banner across the mine, symbolising a red line of two degrees for the climate, which cannot be crossed. The action gained national and international media coverage, and nobody was arrested on the day.

We weren’t there to protest against the individual mine workers themselves, who simply want to earn a living and have a good life like everyone else. We were there to remind governments that it is their duty to live up to the Paris agreement, invest in community renewable energy, and do all they can to ensure that future generations can have a decent life on a stable planet. Until that happens, direct action will only escalate. We have a small window of opportunity to show our leaders that this is a political issue, and it is one that we demand they act on. Let’s be the generation that uses this historic opportunity to show our future grandchildren that we did all the we could to give them a better world.

For more information on the campaign against drilling at Woodburn see:

A list of events on in June can be found here

Treasure our Butterflies, Bumblebees and Biodiversity Workshop: 2016

Many species of our wildlife such as the butterfly and the bumblebee are suffering a decline in numbers. As part of an effort to conserve our biodiversity, Monaghan Tidy Towns Network and the National Biodiversity Data Centre are inviting people to a FREE practical workshop on identifying the various species of butterfly and bumblebee we have in the county. It will also cover how to record sightings of these insects. The workshop will take place in Ballybay Wetlands Centre on Saturday, 28 May (10am-4pm).

When we think of a fine summer’s day in Ireland, the hum of bumblebees and the fluttering of butterflies probably spring to mind. Unfortunately today there are fewer bumblebees and butterflies in Ireland than in past decades with some species having become extinct and others heading in that direction.  Undertaking surveys and taking action to improve the habitats of these insects is crucially important to the future survival of at least some of these species. Continue reading

Treasure our Butterflies, Bumblebees and Biodiversity at Free Workshop in Ballybay


Many species of our wildlife such as the butterfly and the bumblebee are suffering a decline in butterflynumbers. As part of an effort to conserve our biodiversity, Monaghan Tidy Towns Network and the National Biodiversity Data Centre are inviting people to a FREE practical workshop on identifying the various species of butterfly and bumblebee we have in the county. It will also cover how to record sightings of these insects. The workshop will take place in Ballybay Wetlands Centre on Saturday, 28 May (10am-4pm).


When we think of a fine summer’s day in Ireland, the hum of bumblebees and the fluttering of butterflies probably spring to mind. Unfortunately today there are fewer bumblebees and butterflies in Ireland than in past decades with some species having become extinct and others heading in that direction.  Undertaking surveys and taking action to improve the habitats of these insects is crucially important to the future survival of at least some of these species.

It’s not just bees and butterflies that are at risk. A report released by the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew, London last week warns that 20% of plant species are becoming extinct. A concept that would be new to many people, the ‘sixth mass extinction’ is now being discussed by scientists. It suggests that we humans are pushing our shared planet towards a mass extinction of species. There have been five preceding mass extinctions on earth – but this is different because we humans would be the driving force behind it. Some people call it ‘ecocide’. There is hope on all fronts however – there is still time to do something about it.

Almost a year ago, Pope Francis published the ‘Laudato Si’ encyclical to acclaim from many quarters. It condemned the contribution of humanity to climate change and thoughtless behaviour in terms of disrespecting and destructing nature and biodiversity. It encouraged humans to look after what we have left for future generations.

Ballybay Workshop Details

The upcoming workshop in Ballybay is a local effort to look after the butterflies and bumblebees that are left on our little section of the planet.  At the Ballybay workshop, Dr Tomás Murray of the National Biodiversity Data Centre will introduce participants to the biology and the species of Irish bumblebees and butterflies. He will then provide training on how to monitor both groups of pollinators according to international standards. Participants will get to spend a few hours in the field honing their identification skills, for both butterflies and bumblebees and practice the process of recording information for the National Biodiversity Data Centre’s butterfly and bumblebee monitoring schemes.

Nets and other equipment will be provided to participants for use on the day and some will be for sale. Colour identification guides will be given to participants to take home. The day is being organised by Monaghan Tidy Towns Network and sponsored by Monaghan County Council. While the workshop is mainly aimed at adults who wish to participate in the various monitoring schemes run by the National Biodiversity Data Centre, children over 12 are also welcome. Priority will be given to booking from members of Tidy Towns groups. Book by contacting Fionnuala Mulligan on 047 73720 or email Details at

bbay wetlands

Ballybay Wetlands Centre is the venue for Biodiversity workshop

Promoting and Protecting Biodiversity

There is a particular focus at this time in promoting biodiversity. The Wild Cities’ series on RTÉ has been has been widely praised. Biodiversity Week is actually taking place this week (14 – 22 May). As part of the week many events are taking place nationwide. See listings at The National Biodiversity Data Centre will launch a 5,000 biodiversity records challenge running from tomorrow Friday, 20 to Sunday. 22 May. See In County Monaghan there has already been a bat walk and talk in Inniskeen, and this Saturday the Tidy Towns Group there is organising a ‘Mayfly and Insects on the River’ event. See details on Noticeboard below.

Tidy Towns groups have been encouraged to apply for the Tidy Towns Pollinator Award. The closing date is tomorrow, but it’s expected that it will be available again next year. For Tidy Towns Group and other groups interested in wildlife, a useful ‘Local Community Actions to Help Pollinators’ was published recently on the Biodiversity Ireland website. Other websites of interest are and  the website of the Monaghan Town biodiversity project

As individuals, whether we have a large farm or small garden we all have a role to play in conserving wildlife. Planting a wildflower strip means we are taking a good first step. It means that we can get enjoyment from the hum of bumblebees and the fluttering of butterflies  – wonders of nature on our doorstep.

May events can be found here

June events can be found here

Meeting Best Selling Author and Climate Change Guru – Naomi Klein

On Thursday evening, 5 May, Naomi Klein, one of the world’s leading climate and social activists delivered an inspiring talk at the RDS, Dublin entitled ‘How Climate Change is going to change everything (for the worse – or the better)’.  Jennifer Mc Aree of Transition Monaghan went along and reports on the event. Mícheál Callaghan, also of Transition Monaghan attended the event (which formed part of Dublin’s International Literature Festival).


Naomi (right) signs a copy of her book for Jennifer.

Naomi Klein is a best-selling author and activist, devoted to spreading the messages of climate change and social injustice through writing books and newspaper articles, making films and giving speeches around the globe. Her latest book, ‘This Changes Everything’ challenges capitalism in its current unyielding and ravenous form. In it, she urges people to take back power for their communities by lobbying politicians, exposing multinational corporations and staging peaceful protests on issues related to climate change and social inequality. The book has been a worldwide success and has since been made into a documentary.

RTÉ presenter Áine Lawlor introduced Naomi, who gave an impassioned speech on global warming, the current failure to address it collectively as a human race and the many solutions out there that could have immediate effect – if we would only take action. She spoke about last December’s COP21 (the Paris Climate talks) and the positive and negative outcomes that emerged from it. While it is seen as being the most ambitious and promising climate pact to date, it is non-binding and signatory nations are left to their own devices in terms of what actions to take.

Naomi alluded to our Taoiseach making vague promises in Paris to reduce greenhouse gas emissions – and then returning home to facilitate increased emissions by pushing agendas like doubling our livestock herd under the ‘Food Harvest 2020’ plan. The Paris Climate Pact is not nearly enough if we are to keep temperatures from rising to below 2 degrees Celsius; there is little hope of achieving the ideal target of 1.5 degrees Celsius, which would secure the survival of vulnerable island nations.

Naomi acknowledged that most other countries were also guilty of being non-committal after the climate talks, including her native Canada. She referred to Fort McMurray in Alberta, Canada which is currently being ravaged by wildfires that have this year arrived 1-2 months earlier than usual. Ironically, many of the 80,000 or more people that have been forced to evacuate Fort McMurray work in the oil industry to feed the insatiable appetite for cheap, convenient energy.

Naomi advised that wartime measures are required right now to come anywhere close to halting global warming. We must divest from fossil fuels immediately and invest in clean, renewable energy. This would support communities globally, including Ireland. She wittily mentioned Deputy Danny Healy-Rae’s Dáil speech last week. The Deputy in claiming that current climate change is not manmade was rejecting the evidence of thousands of scientists.

The message from Naomi Klein was that the longer we delay climate action the worse the problem will get. With regard to our newly formed Government, the good news is that a Department of Climate Change now exists.  Its challenge is to tackle Ireland’s big emissions problem.

Naomi’s talk was followed by thoughtful questions from Áine Lawlor and members of the audience. The scary possibility of Donald Trump becoming the next US President arose, but Klein stressed that even if Hillary Clinton edges him out, she will still have to be pressurised to make tough decisions to fight rising greenhouse gas emissions. Overall it was a worthwhile, inspiring evening, topped off nicely when Naomi signed my copy of ‘This Changes Everything’. If only the new Cabinet could have been present to see her speak.

For a list of event in May, please click here.  For June events click here

Teresa Wins Green Business Award for Eco Farm / Tourism Facility by the Erne



Teresa O’Hare, Orchard Acre Farm, Co Fermanagh was the recipient of the Green Small Organisation of the Year award at the 2016 Green Business Awards ceremony in Dublin.

Teresa O’Hare and her Orchard Acre Farm share a lot in common with ‘River Cottage’ of the Channel 4 series. Both have inspirational people at the helm – growing food, cooking it and sharing the skills while having fun in the process.  Teresa does this through a range of courses and events at her Fermanagh eco-tourism facility that even include hosting alternative hen parties. She has given numerous gardening talks including one in Monaghan to the Monaghan GIY Group. Her centre’s productive and attractive gardens and stunning eco barn are located between Lisnarick and Irvinestown, on the Kingfisher Cycle Trail, minutes from scenic Lough Erne and Enniskillen.

Orchard Acre Farm has won numerous awards – three of them in less than a year. On Thursday, 14 April last before an audience of almost 500 leading industry professionals at the Green Business Awards Ceremony in  Dublin, Teresa was the recipient of the Green Small Organisation of the Year award.  Talking about  her most recent award a very jubilant Teresa said; “Thanks is due to my family and the whole farm team that we are simply  the best small Green business in Ireland. We all take great pride in offering a high standard of  events, classes and demo’s, in cookery, food growing and craft all year round, whilst caring for the natural world around us.”

Teresa continued; “Not everybody chooses to come here because of our Eco credentials. They come because we meet their needs, such as bespoke training, a unique venue and gorgeous, simply presented fresh food. When they get here they can experience how being a Green Business is good for them and the  environment , good for social fabric of our  local community and good for the financial stability of the farm.”


The farm ethos is totally inclusive. Events and classes suit individuals, families and groups and the facility is fully wheelchair accessible.  The destination is listed as one of Northern Ireland’s Tourism’s Great Days Out. Further details on Orchard Acre Farm are available at Tel 048 6862 1066.

orchard acre

The barn and garden at Orchard Acre Farm

Links to the May Noticeboard can be found here. The June Noticeboard can be found here

Climate Change: “Ireland fiddles as the world burns”

In the protracted negotiations to form a government, the issue of Ireland’s role in responding to the greatest challenge facing humanity – climate change – is not to the fore. Commenting on the climate issue, the conservation group An Taisce says that our high emissions means that, per person, we in Ireland are big contributors to the global climate problem and that we will soon face enormous fines by the EU of €600 million per year for missing our emission reduction targets. This is despite our ‘special case‘ plea to the EU and the fact that Acting Minister for the Environment Alan Kelly was in New York last week to sign the UN Climate Agreement drawn up in Paris last December.    

Increases in global temperature in 2015 and in the first three months of 2016 are being described by scientist as ‘off the charts’. Many developing countries are being hit hard by the resulting extreme weather events. Rising sea levels means that the sea is encroaching on many low-lying islands and coastal regions around the world. Last week, scientists have confirmed that 93% of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef has suffered a severe bleaching event, leaving much of the world’s largest living structure ‘dead or dying’. Meanwhile, more than 12% of Greenland’s massive ice pack began melting earlier this month, the earliest ‘summer’ melt ever recorded. We in Ireland are not escaping the impact of climate change. We have been victim to heavy rainfall and the devastation severe storms have wreaked during our recent winters. Unfortunately, with our increasing emissions, these storms, like Storm Desmond last year will only increase in ferocity and frequency.


Many climate scientists say that we are now in a climate emergency. Here in Ireland An Taisce is highly critical of Ireland’s response. The organisation has a climate change subcommittee that is chaired by Dr Barry McMullin of DCU and includes climate scientist John Sweeney of NUI Maynooth.

barry mcmullin

Dr Barry McMullin, Chair of An Taisce’s Climate Change Committee


In a statement An Taisce says: “We are missing EU targets that themselves fall far short of the immediate effort needed to match the far more challenging climate targets we agreed to at Paris. … Instead of the sharp reductions we are legally mandated to achieve, Irish agriculture is due to increase its emissions by 6-7%, while transport emissions are set to climb by between 10-16% versus their 2014 levels. An Taisce also highlights the adverse impact of other sources of emissions – the 20% increase in coal being used at Moneypoint power plant last year and 11% increase in Ireland’s aviation emissions in a single year.

John Gibbons a spokesperson for An Taisce said: “Our new Climate Act mandates a transition pathway to a low carbon future. Instead we are doing the exact opposite. We are choosing a path of short-term financial gain, intentionally adding to global impacts and undermining our future well-being. Why are we being so foolish?”

So what examples of positive steps are there? An Taisce points to the recent decision by the Dutch Parliament to phase out all new non-electric vehicles from its national fleet by 2025. The group says that Ireland needs to make such a decision and send out signals to the market that will further encourage industry to switch to zero or near-zero emissions technology. Such decisions would lead to emissions reduction and so reduce fines, leaving more money for hospitals and schools.

Concluding his remarks, John Gibbons said: “In an era of deepening international environmental crisis, Ireland is increasingly behaving like a ‘rogue state’, with politicians afraid to lead, many public officials afraid of change and a system in thrall to special interests. We as a nation are entitled to expect much better, for this generation and more especially, for the next.”

Further commentary by John Gibbons on the climate change issue is available at

Links to the May noticeboard can be found here.  The June Noticeboard is found here