Sinn Féin Councillor John Feely has pledged the party’s support to a new environmental campaign which is calling for the divestment of local government pensions away from fossil fuel companies.

Fossil Free Northern Ireland is a Friends of the Earth initiative that aims to take the use of fossil fuels out of Northern Ireland’s economy, society and environment. The campaign is calling for the Northern Ireland Local Government Officers Superannuation Committee (NILGOSC) to divest the £350 million of pensions which are currently invested in fossil fuel companies.

It held a Fermanagh campaign launch at Fermanagh House recently.

Following the meeting, Friends of the Earth Network Developer Niall Bakewell said: “Friends of the Earth welcomed local representatives of the Green Party, Good Energies Alliance Ireland, Fermanagh Fracking Awareness, Fermanagh and Omagh Council, and some of our own members to help launch Fossil Free Northern Ireland in Enniskillen.”

He said there was “broad support” in the room “for the principle of taking Local Government pension money out of fossil fuel investments, with particular enthusiasm from the campaigners who are involved in the campaigns against proposed drilling in Fermanagh and Leitrim.”

Local environmental activists heard from representatives of Friends of the Earth, including campaigners Jamie Peters and Deirdre Duff, Niall Bakewell. The special guest was Tina Rothery, from the campaign against fracking at Preston New Road in Lancashire, who told stories from the frontline of stopping fossil fuel extraction in the UK.

Mr. Bakewell said: “Attendees have agreed to keep in touch with the campaign, and explore how to organise in the Fermanagh and Omagh area.”

Councillor Feely is supporting the campaign, saying: “Both Sinn Féin and this new campaign calls for NILCOSG to divest the entirety of its almost £350m holdings in fossil fuel assets. The pension scheme invests in corporations including Royal Dutch Shell and BP who, over the years, have played a significant role in contributing to climate change to feed their profits.

“It should also be noted that the pension scheme has investments in Centrica who are a major backer of the fracking industry,” he said.

The Fossil Free NI campaigners will begin by asking all local Councillors to sign a letter to NILGOSC to divest from fossil fuel companies by 2020.