Call for QUB to pull out of investment is appalling

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David McNarry MLA,  UKIP Leader in Northern Ireland has said that the call for Queen’s University Belfast to pull out of investment in the fossil fuel industry is ‘appalling.’ 

Mr McNarry said:

“I am appalled to find that a petition to force Queens University to divest itself from investing in the fossil fuel industry is part of an organised campaign by a group named FFQUB Team = Fossil Free Queens University Belfast Team.”

FFQUB state:  “a decision by Queens to divest from fossil fuels would position the University as an ethical Leader on the island of Ireland.”

“This is a dangerous pathway which in my opinion will turn into a divisive reactive catalysis on a matter forcing the university onto a course of action by taking a political standpoint which would be neither ethically economically sound.

Queens are strapped for cash, student funding is a casualty of cutbacks therefore all investments especially those rising in value are of great importance.  However the petition issue raises the urgent question of immediate clarity by Queens and the Minister Stephen Farry MLA.

Will the Minister support and sign the petition?  Will the University respond to the call for the petition by disposing of its current investments in the fossil fuel industry?

The Universities reputation is at stake not only over its investment criteria but also because of the professional linkage over many years it has successfully built between itself and commerce and industry.  It has a worldwide high regard across many business contacts which this petition puts at risk.”

Commenting further, Mr McNarry added:

“Personally I am not interested in the tree – hugging types hell-bent on causing trouble for the university.  But I am as will the public be very interested to know who are the people behind the petition and who are funding their beer money.

I refute FFQUBs assertion of a ‘public desire’ for strong effective action ahead of the forthcoming 2015 UNFCCC – COP to be held in Paris.  All I can see ahead are protests potentially violent clashes on the streets over what this group and their fellow travellers are investing in.  

Placing Queens in this position of conflict over an investment is likely to damage the University.  But as I say – let’s hear of Queens’s position and also the Ministers.  This is nothing short of an anti-fracking lobby that has lost the plot.  It wants higher fuel charges, it wants a lower economy – it couldn’t care tuppence about the household costs or the energy costs to industry.

Yesterday the Government awarded licences for 27 areas to explore for oil and gas in England and Wales.  It was backing the safe development of shale gas to create jobs and secure for decades future energy supplies.  Such opportunities exist here to power our economy and cannot be missed.  FFQUBs petition will if supported score a direct hit against progress on the economic front.”

I call on FFQUB to out themselves in public.  After all if you want public support to sign your petition then show yourselves – show the public who you are.     

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