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Irish Independent: Fuel giant weighs up demand by Dempsey

Irish Independent: Fuel giant weighs up demand by Dempsey

“FUEL giant Shell is taking legal advice before responding to a ministerial order to dismantle 3km of pipeline constructed in Mayo without consent.”: “But he once again ruled out intervening in the cases of the five Mayo farmers jailed nearly six weeks ago for refusing to obey a High Court order preventing them from obstructing the construction work on their land.”: “Delays caused by protests have already led to 91 redundancies among pipeline workers and it is understood there is the potential for a further 200 lay-offs.”

Tuesday 2 August 2005

FUEL giant Shell is taking legal advice before responding to a ministerial order to dismantle 3km of pipeline constructed in Mayo without consent.

Natural Resources Minister Noel Dempsey said yesterday that Shell would be given consent to complete the gas pipeline once it met technical requirements.

But he once again ruled out intervening in the cases of the five Mayo farmers jailed nearly six weeks ago for refusing to obey a High Court order preventing them from obstructing the construction work on their land.

A spokesperson for the men said yesterday that, in the wake of the latest developments, there was now no question of the men choosing to purge their contempt and secure their release.

Shell’s pipeline, which is intended to transport gas from the Corrib gas field off the coast of Co Mayo to an onshore refinery, has led to widespread protests.

Minister Dempsey wrote to Shell on Sunday night to inform the company that he regards it as being in breach of the “consents” it received for work on the pipeline.

The method of supervising the 900m project will also be changed, with departmental inspectors carrying out the monitoring rather than Shell itself.

“What we will have is authorised officers who will be able to go on site of any of the Shell works during the remainder of this project. They will be able to do so unannounced and without any prior notice,” Mr Dempsey said yesterday.

Speaking of the opposition to the pipeline motivated by safety concerns among local residents in Rossport, he said: “The protesters started out on this protest expressing real fears and concerns.

“I think some of those fears and concerns were based on misinformation about high pressure gas going through the pipe at 345 bars, which is not going to happen.”

A spokesperson for the jailed men – Micheal O Seighin, Willie Corduff, Brendan Philbin and brothers Vincent and Philip McGrath – said they would have no difficulty making an apology.

But spokesperson Mark Garavan said the problem about the men purging their contempt was that they would have to undertake not to interfere with any Shell works in the future. “The central substantive issue that has brought them into the High Court remains unresolved. Shell is still in a position to put down a high pressure pipeline through Rossport.

“The men are not in the business of saving face. They were resolute from the moment they went in that they could be in prison for months on end. They had no illusions.”

Shell is preparing a lengthy response to Mr Dempsey, although it is understood that the company is prepared to comply with his orders.

Meanwhile, the company will today continue with the process of consulting contractors signed up to work on the pipeline. Delays caused by protests have already led to 91 redundancies among pipeline workers and it is understood there is the potential for a further 200 lay-offs.

Ben Quinn

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