Northern Ireland news

Campaigning priest criticises Co Tyrone goldmine plan

Fr Joe McVeigh has voiced concerns about plans to open a goldmine in Co Tyrone
Connla Young

A campaigning Catholic priest has raised concerns about plans to develop a gold mine in the Sperrin Mountains.

Fermanagh based Fr Joe McVeigh accused multi-national mining firm Dalradian Gold of trying to “make a quick buck” on gold buried deep within the famous mountain range.

The Canadian company wants to open a gold mine at Greencastle along with a plant which will use cyanide to remove the precious metal from locally mined ore.

Canadian mining form Dalradian Gold plans to mine for gold in the Sperrin Mountains

Some people are opposed to the plan on environmental and other grounds.

Dalradian insist the process is safe.

Fr McVeigh is a respected civil rights campaigner who was prominent during the Troubles.

He has fears for the future of the area if the mine scheme goes ahead.

“They are here to make a quick buck on the lucrative gold reserves in the Sperrins and then when they have destroyed the place they will go somewhere else to explore and destroy and make more money for themselves,” he said.

“Destruction is the name of their game.

“They promise the locals the sun, moon and stars and undoubtedly some will make a few shillings - but at what cost?”

Fr McVeigh is the second Catholic priest to speak out on issues linked to the proposed gold mine in recent months.

A statue of Our Lady near Greencastle in Co Tyrone

In November Greencastle parish priest, Fr Edward Gallagher, said he was disappointed after Fermanagh and Omagh District Council ordered the removal of a statue of the Virgin Mary put up close to the planned mine complex.

The statue stands a few metres from a Mass rock where Dalradian previously refused to allow a Catholic service to be held.

A spokesman for Dalradian declined to address Fr McVeigh's environmental concerns.

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