Northern Ireland news

PSNI set up 'Engagement Team' to deal with increasing Tyrone mine tensions

The PSNI has set up an Engagement Team amid increasing tensions over a proposed goldmine in Co Tyrone
Connla Young

THE PSNI has set up a special team to deal with issues relating to a controversial planned goldmine in Co Tyrone after “increasing tensions” in the area.

It is understood some elected representatives in the Omagh area have been contacted by members of a recently formed Engagement Team.

In an email recently sent to a councillor a police officer involved with the team reveals that a specific mine related email address has also been set up by police.

However, when contacted a spokesman for the PSNI said there was no specific Engagement Team in place.

The establishment of the team comes amid rising tensions in the Greencastle area over plans by Canadian firm Dalradian Gold to develop a mine and an associated processing plant which will use cyanide to strip gold from ore.

The firm is majority-owned by investment management firm, Orion Mine Finance, which has offices in New York, London and the Cayman Islands.

Some people living in the Greencastle area opposed to the plan on health and environmental grounds.

The Greencastle People's Office (GPO) has recently set up a make-shift settlement near the site to voice their opposition.

 The GPO camp has been set up to show opposition to the planned gold mine

In the email, which has been seen by the Irish News, a member of the Engagement Team said that he and a colleague are both Omagh neighbourhood officers “but will be concentrating a large portion of our time to the community in Greencastle, Co Tyrone, following the ongoing and increasing tensions within the area.”

The email includes the mobile phone numbers of two officers involved with the new team.

They say they intend to make contact with elected representatives, local organisations and residents in the coming weeks.

Although police deny there is a specific Engagement Team in place, in a statement Superintendent Clive Beatty last night said: “Effective policing requires the co-operation of the public, which can be delivered through effective engagement with all key stakeholders and the officers within the Omagh area have and continue to engage with all interested parties.

"While the mining debate continues within the local community, from a policing perspective our objectives are clear - our aim is to protect people, prevent harm, ensure there is no breach of the peace or criminality, and facilitate peaceful protest."

The AOH in America has voiced concrn to develop a controversial goldmine in the Sperrin Mountains

Meanwhile, the Ancient Order of Hibernians (AOH) in America has given its backing to the local people opposed to the mine plan.

Members of the organisation visited the area with Tyrone AOH president Gerry McGeough last week.

Spokesman Martin Galvin said: “We support those who are defending this beautiful part of Tyrone from the threat Dalradian poses to the health of future generations, the environment, culture, beauty and historical importance of this area.

“We have already included this issue in our discussions with Irish government officials and I will personally be giving an update to the New York State Comptroller Di Napoli's office."

A spokesman for the mining firm said: “Dalradian is proposing a safe project that has been designed to meet and exceed environmental standards, and maintain the Sperrins status as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

“Our employees and contractors, who are mostly from the immediate area, are committed to their environment and we have spent almost a decade gathering a comprehensive assessment of the local environment which has informed our planning application.”

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