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Irish Examiner: Rossport Five – Shell must lift injunction on jailed men

Irish Examiner: Rossport Five – Shell must lift injunction on jailed men

“Shell can facilitate their release simply by going to court and having the injunction lifted, a measure advised by Labour Party leader Pat Rabbitte more than a fortnight ago but which the company chose to ignore.”

Saturday 6 August 2005

The decision by Shell E&P to delay its offshore pipeline until next year is a sensible move, but it fell short if its objective was to allow for a period of discussion and dialogue.

That will not happen as long as the so-called Rossport Five remain in Cloverhill prison for refusing to purge their contempt of a High Court order.

That was made quite clear by Dr Mark Garavan, spokesman for the men and for the Shell to Sea campaign, after a meeting with them yesterday.

The injunction taken out by the company remains extant and as long as it does the five intend to remain in prison.

Shell can facilitate their release simply by going to court and having the injunction lifted, a measure advised by Labour Party leader Pat Rabbitte more than a fortnight ago but which the company chose to ignore.

In announcing the decision to suspend work, the company said this temporary suspension “will not materially affect the project’s completion schedule”, which begs the question as to why it took six weeks to create this breathing space.

It is unfortunate it did not happen as soon as the problems emerged with the local landowners who are worried about the health and safety implications of the pipeline being laid so close to their homes.

In this controversy, the company has not acted impeccably. Though quick enough to seek the injunction to protect its own interests, it was forced to dismantle 3km of gas pipeline which it had no right to assemble.

The primary objective now is that the dispute between the local people and the company should be resolved. To that end, Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources Noel Dempsey has offered to appoint an intermediary to facilitate a fresh round of talks between both sides.

For that to happen, the company must first of all take the necessary steps that will allow the men to be released from prison.

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