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When human cost of ‘going green’ can be far too high

Buncrana tragedy shows the banning of some unpopular chemicals, such as those which could have cleared pier of slippery algae, can be catastrophic

By Phelim McAleer



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Louise James (front left) carries the coffin of one of her sons killed at Buncrana
Louise James (front left) carries the coffin of one of her sons killed at Buncrana

The Buncrana pier tragedy should give us pause. It’s a moment to consider life, hug our loved ones and contemplate how we might prevent such horrors happening in the future.

A major piece missing from the Buncrana pier discussion is how empty platitudes and feel-good environmental policies may have contributed to the death of five family members. We owe it to the McGrotty and Daniels families – and our own families – to take a hard look at the culture of dogmatic environmentalism.

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You can’t ask basic questions of environmentalists anymore without being labelled a “denier”, or “anti-science” or, worst of all, a “conservative”. We’re supposed to “go green” without a second thought.

But when we turn off our brains for the sake of dogma – any dogma – we lose sight of the consequences of our choices. It’s likely the McGrotty and Daniels families weren’t thinking about environmental policy on their St Patrick’s weekend outing.

They were rightfully enjoying each other’s company, the weather and the beautiful view from Buncrana pier.

It was their last stop before the six of them were to return home.

But, as Sean McGrotty made a three-point turn on the pier, his tyres slipped on the dangerously thick layer of algae and never regained traction. The car plummeted into the water.

“The algae was absolutely lethal,” said Davitt Walsh, an eyewitness who, after seeing the accident, dived into the water and by sheer willpower, fighting the rising tide and exhaustion, was able to rescue four-month-old Rioghnach-Ann – the only family member to survive.