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Irish Times: Mayo Co Council to meet on Corrib gas project

Irish Times: Mayo Co Council to meet on Corrib gas project

“Shell E&P Ireland said yesterday it was still considering the consent to lay the offshore pipeline granted on Tuesday by Mr Dempsey, but it had not yet responded to his letter of July 31st directing the company to break up the 3km of onshore pipeline which had been welded without ministerial consent.”

Thursday Aug 04, 2005

Lorna Siggins, Western Correspondent

Mayo County Council is to hold an emergency meeting within the next fortnight over the Corrib gas field controversy. This follows a six-hour sit-in yesterday at the local authority’s Castlebar offices by wives of the five imprisoned Rossport residents.

Three Fianna Fail councillors were among the requisite five local authority representatives who successfully petitioned the cathaoirleach, Fine Gael councillor Henry Kenny, to hold the meeting after an earlier appeal by the wives and members of the Shell to Sea campaign.

The emergency meeting will be held to “address the matter of the imprisonment of the Rossport Five and the issue of cleaning the gas at sea called for by the imprisoned men as the only viable solution to the problems of health and safety inherent in the upstream pipeline as currently proposed”.

The petition was signed by Fianna Fail councillors Tim Quinn, who supports an offshore terminal, and Frank Chambers, along with Johnny Mee (Lab) and Micheal Holmes (Ind).

Fine Gael holds the majority, at 13 of 31 seats, on the county council, Fianna Fail has 10 seats, Labour and the Greens have one each and there are two independents.

Mr Kenny had agreed to meet a delegation involving the five women, family members and supporters, and the four Belmullet area councillors in Castlebar yesterday morning.

During the two-hour meeting, appeals were made by CaitlIn O Seighin for her husband Micheal; Mary Corduff for her husband Willie; Aggie Philbin, wife of Brendan; Maureen McGrath, wife of Philip; her namesake Maureen, wife of Vincent McGrath, and landowner BrId McGarry for a meeting of the local authority.

Mr Quinn (FF) said he had already told Minister for the Marine Noel Dempsey that even the Army would not be able to lay the Corrib gas pipeline due to opposition. The five men opposing the onshore pipeline are in their fifth week in prison.

Two weeks ago, a motion proposed by Mr Quinn calling for the release of the five men and an offshore terminal was overturned by the cathaoirleach. Several days later, Galway County Council supported a similar motion proposed by Independent councillor Seosamh O Cuaig.

The sit-in occurred after Mr Kenny withdrew from the meeting, with Cllr Gerry Coyle (FG), to consult the party whip. Twenty family and campaign members, including spokesman Dr Mark Garavan, were joined by Mayo TD Dr Jerry Cowley (Ind). Shortly after 4pm, Mr Kenny phoned to say that he would accept the petition by the five councillors.

Dr Cowley welcomed the breakthrough, but said that it had not been a good day for Fine Gael in Mayo and had also shown that the local authority was not willing to respond to people’s wishes. He called once again for Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny to clarify his position on the need for an offshore terminal. Dr Cowley also criticised Mr Dempsey’s statement on Tuesday in relation to the economic importance of the Corrib gas project.

“Shell will only be paying tax on profits, has a total write-off period of 25 years and is getting the raw natural resource for nothing,” Dr Cowley said. He repeated his call for a root-and-branch examination of the Corrib project and a freeze on all new exploration licensing in Irish waters.

Shell E&P Ireland said yesterday it was still considering the consent to lay the offshore pipeline granted on Tuesday by Mr Dempsey, but it had not yet responded to his letter of July 31st directing the company to break up the 3km of onshore pipeline which had been welded without ministerial consent.

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