[Sinn Fein]

11 January 2000

Sinn Fein Vice President welcomes All Ireland Energy Study

Sinn Fein Vice-President Pat Doherty West Tyrone MLA and chairperson of the Enterprise, Trade and Investment Committee has welcomed the announcement by Mary O Rourke and Reg Empey of studies with the ultimate aim of creating a single all Ireland energy market.

Mr Doherty said:

``The commissioning of research on the energy situation north and south with the aim of identifying convergence of the two energy markets with the ultimate aim of creating a single all Ireland energy market is a welcome step. Sinn Fein are committed to promoting the obvious advantages of thinking about energy on an all Ireland basis.

``Last November a cross party delegation from the committee met with Mary O'Rourke and Joe Jacob to discuss the whole issue of energy.  From that perspective both this announcement and the actions of Reg Empey demonstrate that there are very positive discussions taking place on the practical and mutual benefits that can be delivered on an all Ireland basis.

``The development of gas pipeline interconnections, renewable energy and the future of energy production and use on this island are all key issues which will hopefully be dealt with by these new studies. Meeting our energy requirements from renewable sources is also a fundamental issue which should be pursued.

``Perhaps what is most significant is that energy was not an area listed in the Good Friday Agreement for co-operation yet the as Minister O'Rourke has noted it has now become one of the most active areas as a result of joint initiatives. This underlines the huge scope for exploring further and deeper levels of all-Ireland economic activity.''

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