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Irish Times: Mayo deputies dispute alleged ‘intimidation’ of Shell workers

Irish Times: Mayo deputies dispute alleged ‘intimidation’ of Shell workers

“The five residents who are still in prison over their opposition to the high pressure gas pipeline are due back in the High Court next Monday.”

Wednesday 20 July 2005

Lorna Siggins, Marine Correspondent

Jul 20, 2005

Mayo TDs Michael Ring (FG) and Dr Jerry Cowley (Ind) have criticised Mayo County Council over its handling of a motion on the Shell Corrib gas field this week.

The deputies have also disputed recent press reports of “intimidation” of Shell and Statoil workers by protesters in Mayo.

Chief Supt Tony McNamara in Mayo told The Irish Times yesterday that Belmullet gardai logged one report of a threat, which involved a verbal exchange in a pub in Belmullet, Co Mayo, some weeks ago. GardaI had received no reports of intimidation, he said.

Dr Cowley has queried the source of the press reports, which he has described as “scurrilous”, while Mr Ring said he did not believe that any intimidation was taking place.

Mr Ring also expressed disappointment yesterday at the outcome of the Mayo County Council debate, which resulted in an unopposed motion calling on Shell to process the Corrib field gas offshore being overturned by the cathaoirleach, Cllr Henry Kenny (FG), brother of Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny.

“It is no wonder that people have lost all faith in local authorities and councillors,” Mr Ring said. “However, I am delighted that Fianna Fail councillors Tim Quinn and Frank Chambers, who had lectured me in the past over my concerns about the Corrib gas field, have seen the error of their ways.” The motion calling on Shell to build an offshore terminal was proposed at Monday’s council meeting by Cllr Quinn and seconded by Cllr Michael McNamara (FF).

Dr Cowley said he was “astounded” at the outcome of the council meeting, which had involved “total manipulation by some very cynical people” in his view.

“Mayo County Council voted against gold mining on Croagh Patrick some years ago, at a time when there was a question of it being sued by the developer,” Dr Cowley said. In a separate development, Maura Harrington, spokeswoman for Erris residents, said that a senior official from the Department of Marine and Natural Resources’s Petroleum Affairs Division (PAD) had visited a Shell construction site yesterday, having travelled to the location from Bangor with the developers. “The PAD obviously doesn’t even want to give the illusion now of independence in relation to this project,” Ms Harrington claimed.

The five residents who are still in prison over their opposition to the high pressure gas pipeline are due back in the High Court next Monday.

A spokeswoman for the department said that officials could not gain access to the site without the company’s permission. A company representative had to be present during the visit.

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