by James Quigley
A public meeting is coming up entitled 'Who's Who on Inishowen Rivers' on Wednesday 22nd February, 6pm at An Grianán Hotel, Burt, Co Donegal.
The heading on the poster states 'Inishowen Rivers Trust', however, it is unclear which of the organisations mentioned are responsible for the event and indeed what it is all about.
I will take the poster at face value and believe that it is about a 'Who's Who? and all will be revealed on the night.
My interest in the event is not solely environmental but also on the political and commercial relationship around say community organisations and elected public bodies dealing with our ecosystem and communities. Have the parties involved a genuine interest or have they some form of agenda? Do they hold or are they pushing a status quo line?
When I read about Government bodies and Government funded organisations, whether community or not, my internal critical radar starts to blip. I immediately have toask how are these organisations funded and then how did they act around past and present controversies on water and environmental issues in Inishowen?
My own answer is that I can't recall any of the stated organisations giving constructive support or encouragement to any recent or past controversial environmental or political issues. Rather it is my experience that they either say nothing or have actively criticised any who spoke out or asked awkward questions.
As for bureaucratic officialdom, e.g. County Councils, it has been my experience that they misinform, obstruct, are rude, doctrinaire and paternalistic and even worse. It is in the Government's interest, good PR, to support clean ups, tree planting, nice community events etc. They will support financially and practically any organisations pushing it's agenda and in so doing control them. But try asking officialdom awkward questions like what are they putting into our drinking water or sewage into the sea and rivers, allowing fish farms willy-nilly along our shores and the lists goes on. Never mind the big one charging and privatising our water. Then you will see their real side. I wonder will we hear anything like this at the meeting in the Grianán on Wednesday night?
Maybe I should have an open mind and wait to hear the presentations, sip tea with in the establishment, however, it is difficult to dampen my prejudices.