LIMERICK Against Pollution (LAP) have taken issue with connection test calls carried out with participants for this Wednesday’s controversial oral hearing relating to Irish Cement’s plans to move from burning fossil fuels to alternative fuels at its Mungret plant.
A hearing was due to be held in May but was postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
MCI Ireland were outsourced by the EPA as the audio visual partner for this week’s online oral hearing. But, according to Claire Keating of LAP, the results of tests carried out for the oral hearing last Friday, were not at all satisfactory.
“Many couldn’t connect; and some of the EPA people were also unable to connect,” she told the Limerick Post.
“It also became clear that the EPA people and the Director of Production at MCI Ireland hadn’t really considered with any degree of care the way in which questioning, normal at an oral hearing, would be conducted; and the EPA representative was quite reluctant to answer some questions put to him.”
Ms Keating also claims that the EPA representative was extremely defensive about the organisation for which he works; looked uneasy, would not answer questions, and neither of the individuals “seem to have collaborated in any effective way”.
“We are of the opinion that the failure of the test call was simply due to a mixture of incompetence, disorganisation, lack of communication between people in the EPA, among themselves and with MCI Ireland, and the result of being in a big ‘organisation’ with no clear lines of responsibility, and no direction from upper levels.
“Not only is the technology limiting, not only are members of the public likely to be excluded, our experience today shows that this is a pretence at public consultation, a box-ticking exercise by an incompetent EPA. This sham hearing should be cancelled until the conditions exist that allow the EPA to run a competent process. That is, when we can run a live event post-Covid.” she added.
LAP say that the main problem with the platform is that they won’t be able to ask questions at this Wednesday’s hearing. They take the view that this is not a hearing but “parallel monologues”.
“Why did the EPA simply not operate the hearing themselves on one of the many widely used platforms from Microsoft, Google, WebEx, Citrix, Zoom? Instead these people opt for an obscure technology that they can’t make work,” Ms Keating declared.
In response, a statement from the EPA advised that the purpose of carrying out this testing was to identify any potential problems that may arise so that they can be addressed before the oral hearing this week.
“The EPA is proactively testing with participants and continues to be available to test connections ahead of the oral hearing. The EPA has no further comment to make at this time.”