The Cooley Environmental and Health Group was born at a public meeting,
convened by Sean Crudden, in Ballymascanlon Hotel on Monday 13 June 1994
to establish an action group in the Cooley area to oppose
Thorp/Sellafield. Among the attendance at that meeting were Dr Mary
Allen, Mr Stephen Smith and Mr Paddy Martin of The Armagh/Louth
Environmental and Research Group. Mr Stephen Smith coined the name on
the night of the meeting and the Cooley Environmental and Health Group
was set up with Alan Mullen as its first Chairman. The minute book of
Cooley Environmental and Health group contains a record of much
interesting discussion on environmental matters in the ensuing year. The
topics covered are still very relevant today and many of the issues
raised are still unresolved.
A private seminar was organised by the Group on cancer statistics and held in Ballymascanlon Hotel on Sunday 7 May 1995. The speakers that afternoon were Dr Andrew McDonald; Dr Harry Comber, Director of the National Cancer Registry; Dr Mary Allen; Dr Anna Gavin, Director of the NI Cancer Registry (who came unbidden and unheralded); and finally Dr Sally Cook, Medical Geographer from the University of Ulster. Politicians in attendance included Nuala Ahern MEP, Patricia McKenna MEP, and the late lamented Micheal O’Donnell MCC.
The Group subsequently became more research orientated. In the late 1990’s it developed links with Dr Dennis Pringle, Department of Geography, NUI Maynooth. Dr Pringle presented two separate reports on cancer mortality in County Louth to the Cooley Environmental and Health Group. (An accurate summary of these reports appeared in the Dundalk Democrat in 2001, and also previously at the time of the last local elections). The connection with Dr Pringle remains live.
By a cruel twist of fate the much loved Chairman of Cooley Environmental and Health Group, Alan Mullen, developed cancer of the oesophagus, and died on 25 May 1999 - the exact 42nd anniversary of his birth on 25 May 1957.
After a respectful hiatus in the Group’s activity Brian Brennan was appointed Chairman on 22 November 1999 and he continued in that role until he resigned and was replaced by Arthur Morgan MCC (later a TD) on 14 January 2001. At the AGM in January 2009 Anne Muldowney was elected Chairperson. Anne remains as Vice-Chairperson but was succeeded by Dermot Mooney in January 2010. Archbishop Michael Desmond Hynes OMD PhD has been the Secretary of the Group since 22 November 1999, whilst the Treasurer, Seán Crudden has been a driving force in the Group since its very inception.
Despite its origins the group has never become involved in "street politics" or campaigning. Although it is strictly a non-expert group it attempts to adopt a scientific or academic approach to its business. In addition to Sellafield and health concerns, other issues which the Group has become involved with over the years include Safety, Energy, Waste Disposal, Personal Energy, Obesity, Suicide and Mental Health.
Bodies that Cooley Environmental and Health Group have dealt with include the National Cancer Registry; the Radiological Protection Institute of Ireland; the Environmental Protection Agency; the Environmental Department of Louth County Council; the Tanaiste, Mary Harney TD and her Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment; the Department of Public Enterprise; and the Department of Agriculture.
Cooley Environmental and Health Group maintained links with Louth LEADER, later known as Louth Leader/Partnership, as well as the Louth County Community and Voluntary Forum organised by Louth County Council’s Community and Enterprise section as an extension of democracy into divisions of local government. These days we are registered with the Louth Public Participation Network (PPN).
The Group has been discussing for a number of years past the promotion of handball in Cooley but, so far, without much material progress.
Monthly meetings of the Group were held in Ballymascanlon Hotel from 1994 until the Autumn of 2002, at which point they were transferred to The Strand Hotel in Omeath. The Group organised its first Winter Workshop in January 2001. An annual Workshop with invited guest speakers has been organised each January since.
All meetings of Cooley Environmental and Health Group are advertised to the public through the local press and radio.Anyone interested is more than welcome to attend.
Sean Crudden (Treasurer), Paul Smyth (Vice-Chair)
THE CURRENT COMMITTEE
- Chairperson: Mr Jonathan Larkin
- Vice-chairperson: Mr Paul Smyth
- Secretary: Archbishop Michael Desmond Hynes, Tel: 042 9373525
- Joint Treasurer: Mr Seán Crudden, Tel: 042 9371310
- Joint Treasurer: Aine O'Reilly
- Other: Aoibhe Kieran, Chris Nikkel
Jonathan Larkin, Chair CEHG
Sean Crudden, Treasurer