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Ireland Online: Taoiseach admits Shell protestors jailing ‘regrettable’

Ireland Online: Taoiseach admits Shell protestors jailing ‘regrettable’

Thursday 30 June 2005

The jailing of five Co Mayo men for blocking work on a Shell gas pipeline is regrettable, but the court’s decision must be respected, Taoiseach Bertie Ahern said today.

Mr Ahern added an independent report on the safety of the project, commissioned by Natural Resources Minister Noel Dempsey, would be published as soon as it was ready.

Efforts were continuing today between Shell executives and Mayo TDs to find a compromise which may lead to the release of the protesters.

Shell Ireland chairman Andy Pyle said the families had refused to meet the firm in the months before the High Court conviction for contempt.

But he hinted that some compromise may be still possible if contact was established.

“It’s a very difficult situation and I can’t see an easy solution unless we can get into an open dialogue about the concerns of the individuals and what we can do to allay and address those concerns.”

Supporters of the five men are today holding rally at the Shell depot in Rossport, Co Mayo, and a demonstration will also be staged at the Shell Oil Terminal in Galway this afternoon.

Mr Ahern, who said he had previously met some of the families, said: They believe that this will affect their quality of life. It is a beautiful, scenic place.

“It’s a huge development. The Shell company has put huge investment into it. They have complied with the law and the regulations.

“It’s been through the rigours of the planning process. The company, as I understand it, are fully within their rights as well. It is regrettable that it has come to this stage.

“It’s a decision for the courts. The Government doesn’t lock up anybody. The reality is you comply with the obligations and decisions.”

Shell to Sea protest group spokesperson Maire Harrington said today: “Shell put those men into jail. Shell [can] get them out.”

Mr Pyle held a three-hour meeting with Mayo TDs and the Bishop of Elphin, Dr Christy Jones at Leinster House last night.

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