Toxic Algae in Lough Neagh – Private ownership to blame 

Huge algal blooms like this form when pollution from farm run-off and sewage meet hot temperatures, linked to climate change. There have been multiple reports of family pets dying as a result of the toxic algae

By Stephen Dooley

Lough Neagh, the largest freshwater lake in Ireland North and South, is currently experiencing a toxic algae bloom that is blanketing multiple points on the Lough. Huge algal blooms like this form when pollution from farm run-off and sewage meet hot temperatures, linked to climate change. There have been multiple reports of family pets dying as a result of the toxic algae, as well as reports of dead fish washing ashore – resulting from depleted oxygen in the water, leading to a disastrous impact on local wildlife and the livelihoods of local fishers. 

This crisis is the result of decades of mismanagement, rampant waste and pollution as well as the broader environmental crisis linked to a capitalist economy that prioritises profit above all else. 40% of the population drink from water sourced from the Lough, but despite being a vital public resource its banks are privately owned by the Earl of Shaftesbury – who has overseen its destruction. We need to take the Lough out of his hands and into public ownership, so it can be run democratically to ensure it is managed in a way that prioritises the needs of all living things. 

This crisis is a stark reminder that the capitalist system is fundamentally at odds with a healthy environment. We need to fundamentally change our economic system towards a socialist one, with economic planning that is centred on sustainability and that seeks to reverse the damage done to all ecosystems and the environment at large.

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