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Irish Times: Plea set for discharge of men’s jailing order

Irish Times: Plea set for discharge of men’s jailing order

“When adjourning those proceedings to next week, the judge said that the fate of the five men was in their own hands, and it was up to them to purge their contempt.”

Friday July 08, 2005

Lawyers for five local people who have been in jail for more than a week for breach of court orders restraining obstruction of the installation of a high-pressure gas pipeline in Co Mayo are to bring an application to discharge the order by which the men are jailed.

Sarah Belshaw, for the men, secured leave yesterday from the president of the High Court, Mr Justice Joseph Finnegan, to issue a motion for discharge of the order made by the judge on April 4th last which restrains obstruction of works connected with the installation of the pipeline by Shell E&P Ireland Limited.

The judge said the matter could be returned for mention only on Monday next with a view to securing a date for hearing some time next week.

The five men were imprisoned on June 29th after refusing to undertake not to obstruct the construction of a 345-bar pressure pipeline at Rossport, linked to the offshore Corrib gas field.

On Wednesday related proceedings were mentioned before Mr Justice Finnegan. These proceedings, brought by two other persons, are also aimed at discharging the judge’s order of April 4th restraining interference with installation of the pipeline.

When adjourning those proceedings to next week, the judge said that the fate of the five men was in their own hands, and it was up to them to purge their contempt.

He added that if the order in the related proceedings was discharged, it did not automatically follow that those in prison would be released. That should be made clear to them, he said.

On Friday last Greg Casey, solicitor for the two applicants, said he believed the ministerial consents for the installation of the pipeline were invalid. He said he had learned that what had been represented as a consent for the installation of a pipeline was “grossly incorrect”.

Mr Casey said he had learned of this after he heard Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources Noel Dempsey tell the Dail what consents he had granted.

Counsel for Shell said it was “absolutely incorrect” to say there was no ministerial consent for installation, and there was a “phased consent” programme.

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