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Irish Independent: No u-turn on pipeline – Dempsey

Irish Independent: No u-turn on pipeline – Dempsey

Friday July 22, 2005

COMMUNICATIONS, Marine and Natural Resources Minister Noel Dempsey has insisted there will be no renegotiation of the lease between the Irish Government and Shell which has led to the controversial Shell Corrib gas pipeline.

At the MacGill Summer School in Glenties, Co Donegal, yesterday, the minister faced a hostile crowd who demanded that he take the steps necessary to secure the release of five men from the north Mayo village of Rossport who were jailed over their opposition to the onshore pipeline.

But the minister told the audience that any attempt to pull out or change a deal which had been negotiated and signed-off would result in the Government being sued and the tax-payer picking up the bill.

“When you negotiate something and sign-off on something, particularly as a State, and if you decide half-way through that you want to go back and change it, you get sued and the tax-payer ends up paying for it.

“So the question of renegotiating specifically the Shell lease is definitely not an option at this stage. You cannot change the existing leases but you can change the terms under which you operate into the future. It’s as simple and straightforward as that,” he said.

Mr Dempsey said he regretted that five men were in jail but he had done his best to come up with a solution to a situation that was not of his making. “I tried as best I could to offer a solution that would allow them to come out of jail but they haven’t accepted that yet. That’s their decision.

“The judge’s decision was made because they were in contempt of court. If we decide that we are not going to accept the decisions of a court, we’d have chaos in the country and the Constitution wouldn’t be much good to you then,” he said.

Mr Dempsey faced heckling from the crowd, which included representatives from the Shell to Sea campaign, and at one point chairman and MacGill Summer School director Joe Mulholland threatened to pull the plug on proceedings.

“I am not going to have this forum hijacked,” he said.

Anita Guidera

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