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THE SUNDAY TIMES: Anti-gas group is right to raise fears

THE SUNDAY TIMES: Anti-gas group is right to raise fears

“THE effect of your editorial (Five have had their say, last week) is either completely to misunderstand the nature of the Corrib pipeline dispute or to misrepresent it.”

Sunday 24 July 2005

THE effect of your editorial (Five have had their say, last week) is either completely to misunderstand the nature of the Corrib pipeline dispute or to misrepresent it. You say that the Rossport Five are “more interested in confrontation than compromise”, but they are in fact interested in a resolution.

You say that “scare-mongering by a small anti-gas group has raised unnecessary fears” but the truth is that legitimate questions are being raised by thousands of people at three consecutive rallies in Mayo.

You say that “extravagant demands” are being made of Shell to process the gas offshore, but this is a conventional development concept for gas processing and would offer a clear solution to the problem. Gas would flow and safety would be better protected.

The effect of an explosion was not explicitly included in minister Noel Dempsey’s proposed review. Nobody is suggesting the pipeline is being built in order to explode. But in designing so unusual and dangerous a construction, one must examine the consequences of failure. How far might a vapour cloud of gas travel in the event of an uncontrolled release? This is not scare-mongering but competent design-safety investigation. The Rossport Five have stepped in where the state and its regulatory agents have failed. Rather than pursuing an “obstinate objection”, as you so unfairly assert, they are acting with dignity, seriousness and concern to protect their communities. To many unbiased observers this is better described as heroism.

Dr Mark Garavan

Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology, Castlebar

NO SCARE-MONGERING: There is little evidence that the Rossport Five’s insistence on their rights under the Irish constitution is likely to “alienate public opinion” as your editorial stated.

But even if it were to do so, this is hardly the issue. The point is that the High Court is enforcing a political decision to grant Royal Dutch Shell the power to issue compulsory acquisition orders against Irish citizens.

Corporations are given no entitlement to executive powers in the constitution, and possess no legal rights.

What your editorial refers to as Dempsey’s “commendable” efforts “to break the deadlock” are very much a case of seen-it-all-before. Rather than appoint an independent expert with experience in the field, the minister has commissioned yet another risk assessment report.

The Sunday Times is to be congratulated on drawing attention to the fact that the Irish people stand to gain nothing from the Corrib gas concession, and will, on the contrary, be subsidising Shell and other companies handsomely.

But the Rossport Five have served to draw attention to such issues by their stance.

To state that the concerns raised are “scare-mongering” is to misrepresent reality. Those who have expressed concerns about this pipeline include a professor of physics at Trinity College Dublin, whose opinion should be preferable to that of “several independent engineering observers” whom you do not name, and the nature of whose “independence” has already been exposed.

Andrew McGrath

Dublin

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