A CAVALCADE of up to 60 boats on trailers and fleets of cars wound its way through Enniskillen on Saturday as local fishermen gathered in a show of strength to voice their opposition to fracking.
In their inaugural anti-fracking protest, the non-political anglers group FART (Fishermen Are Resisting Tamboran), claimed the controversial fracking process could threaten local angling lakes and endanger fish species unique to Fermanagh.
Fishermen from south of the border joined their northern counterparts to echo their opposition as many of the local lakes run into Southern rivers, with some anglers claiming that fracking will impact on their fish stock.
Supporters from Belfast, London and beyond took to the streets of Enniskillen with over 150 people watching the carnivalesque parade.
The fishermen from Garrison and Lough Melvin Fishing Association launched the group in a bid to mount pressure on the North’s government to pull the plug on the controversial method of shale gas extraction.
They have also given their backing to a local councillor’s proposal to hold a fracking referendum which will coincide with local elections on May 22.
Independent councillor Bernice Swift said commended the anti-fracking rally at the monthly council meeting.
She said: “I want to wholly commend the creative initiative of FART who are intent on creating a big stink against any attempt at Fracking in Lough Erne or Lough Melvin.
“These fishermen are fully aware that fracking would have a devastating impact with the release of toxic chemicals ending up In Lough Erne and Lough Melvin polluting the drinking water for the whole county forever.
“High praise to all concerned they have my 100 percent backing.”
Sinn Fein councillor, Debbie Coyle also praised the number of fisherman who turned out for the cause. “They raised awareness around the town and got great support,” she said.
SDLP councillor Brendan Gallagher, who is a member of Garrison and Lough Melvin Fishing Association, said he believed that the group carried more weight due to the fact it was non-political.
He also told Monday’s meeting of the council that the group received over 800 signatures for their anti-fracking campaign.
However, Sinn Fein’s Sheamus Greene warned, however, that signatures do not necessarily mean success and he highlighted the 6,000 signatures received in regards to the retention of town lands. “People in power can ignore that,” he concluded.
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