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  • Writer's pictureLove Ballymena

Queen’s report highlights emotional and personal impact of the Lough Neagh crisis

Queen’s today launched the first report focusing on the emotional and personal impact of the Lough Neagh blue-green algae ecological crisis.

The report, from the Centre for Sustainability, Equality and Climate Action at Queen’s, focuses on interviews with 12 local people affected by the environmental crisis in Lough Neagh, detailing the emotional, mental and psychological impacts it has had on them.

Many of those interviewed reported a deep emotional and cultural attachment to Lough Neagh, often based on long, multi-generational family ties to its shores, waters and natural life. They hold extensive and valuable knowledge of the Lough that encompasses but also stretches beyond scientific-ecological understandings of its unique ecosystems, to include its presence, role and importance in historical, social and cultural life, and ways of being.

Some responses featured in the report included:

  • “More people need to listen to the environment groups as it’s the only way things will change. The Lough could well be dead in a couple of years and if it’s not impacting people now it will when they cannot drink the water in the few years.”

  • “What has happened has unified people, we as humans have created this issue and there is a shared responsibility, and we just need to get it fixed regardless of who or what has caused it.”

  • “My own feeling was almost ‘I told you so’. That body of water that sits there, it was so forgiving for so long, of all the excess we allowed to go into her, she was able to manage it, this year she just could not cope any more. I knew it would happen.”

  • “We were in mourning for the Lough. You say it’s not dead, but all I can see now is the bones of an old person. The Lough had the stink of death.”

John Barry, Professor of Green Political Economy at Queen’s, one of the authors of the report, said:

“Our hope is that this report will help to raise the voices, concerns and wishes of those who are too often voiceless and unrepresented in discourses on environmental crisis and action, and left powerless in decision making.

“Our report concludes that there is a clear emotional dimension of people’s connection to and attachment to the Lough. Many interviewed spoke with affection, reverence and concern for the Lough and it was clear they cared deeply for it. As is understandable, this love, care and connection results in deep feelings of sadness, anger, disbelief, fear and anxiety as a result of the ongoing ecological crisis.

“One of the main findings of the report is the need for more research into the crisis, ecological, epidemiological and economic. It is also suggested that this research needs to be more collaborative, involving all members of the community and stakeholders, on the appropriate modes of governance and policy development needed for the restoration and ecologically sustainable management of the Lough.”


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