The reported petrol bomb attack on the home of one of Tamboran’s security guards was cowardly, stupid and potentially damaging to the frack-free movement. Quite possibly it was intended to be so. You don’t have to be a conspiracy theorist to realise that there are a lot of people and organisations who would benefit from the discrediting of the massive public outcry against fracking in Fermanagh. There is also, very sadly, a generation in Northern Ireland brought up on tales of paramilitary heroes, young men who have imbued a nostalgia for violence, and for whom any target would be sufficient for their blooding.
My personal view is that one or other of these phenomena explains whatever happened in Letterbreen early on Sunday morning. The newspaper reports are somewhat confused, but the opportunity has been taken by fracking’s apologists to smear us, and we have been left feeling uncomfortable and, for we’re a conscientious bunch, obscurely responsible. But we shouldn’t feel guilty; it isn’t our fault. I am as certain as I can possibly be that none of the people I have worked with over nearly three years of frack-free campaigning would ever contemplate such an action; and that neither would the gentle farmers I met in Belcoo on Friday evening and at yesterday’s tractor run into Enniskillen.
There is a tendency of the media now, when talking of ‘extremism’ to assume that the more strongly someone feels about a cause, the more likely they are to use violence to further it. In the case of the frack-free movement, this is emphatically not the case. Fracking is fundamentally violent, from its initial explosives, through shattering of the shale rock, uncontrolled expulsion of toxins into water, soil and air, to the fracturing of communities and the health of the most vulnerable. The more we learn about the process, and the more we see its effects, the more committed we become to our alternative vision of peace, non-violence and compassion. The code of conduct tied to the security fence at Tamboran’s site remains true, and I will make no apology for standing alongside the people of Fermanagh who make it their watchword.