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Irish Times: Council rejects ‘Shell to Sea’ call

Irish Times: Council rejects ‘Shell to Sea’ call

“Dr Mark Garavan, spokesman for the “Shell to Sea” campaign and the imprisoned men who are today spending their 46th day in jail, warned about the danger to lives if the onshore pipeline ruptured. Locals had been crying out for five years about pipeline safety issues. Minister for the Marine Noel Dempsey had made the extraordinary admission that no State agency was responsible for the pipeline, he added.”

Saturday 13 August 2005

Lorna Siggins and Tom Shiel

Mayo County Council has rejected a motion urging Shell to locate its controversial Corrib gas terminal offshore.

The 13-9 vote followed strong legal advice from the council’s lawyer, Michael Browne, that the motion, if passed, could expose the authority to expensive litigation.

Before voting at an emergency session yesterday, the 22 councillors who attended were also advised by deputy county manager Joe Beirne that the motion would make it difficult for the authority to attract further investment to the county.

Mr Beirne said the cost of the gas project was around 900 million and therefore the cost of any litigation would have a major impact on the council’s finances and affect its ability to deliver services.

Fine Gael councillor Johnnie O’Malley broke the party whip on the issue by voting for the motion, which had been tabled by five councillors: three Fianna Fail, one Independent and one Labour. He said a community had been needlessly torn apart by the controversy.

Cllr O’Malley called on Shell to withdraw the injunction against five local men who were jailed on June 29th after they refused to give undertakings not to obstruct the installation of the high-pressure gas pipeline.

Cllr O’Malley warned that extremists could become involved in the situation and life or limb could be lost. The only viable solution to the problem was to put the terminal at sea, he added.

Up to 30 observers from the Rossport area and supporters of the five in Cloverhill Prison crowded the visitors’ gallery for the session, which lasted five hours. Independent TD Dr Jerry Cowley and human rights activist CaitrIona Ruane were there.

Dr Mark Garavan, spokesman for the “Shell to Sea” campaign and the imprisoned men who are today spending their 46th day in jail, warned about the danger to lives if the onshore pipeline ruptured. Locals had been crying out for five years about pipeline safety issues. Minister for the Marine Noel Dempsey had made the extraordinary admission that no State agency was responsible for the pipeline, he added.

Dr Garavan deplored the fact that financial and legal issues were being introduced, and called for the issue to be debated on its own merits.

Meanwhile, Shell E&P Ireland intends to start work on Monday on dismantling the Corrib gas onshore pipeline that was welded without ministerial consent.

The company says taking apart the 3km section will take five to six weeks.

The “Shell to Sea” campaign said yesterday’s failure by the council to support the motion did not represent a setback. “It is up to the Government in the end to direct the company,” Dr Garavan said.

A rally in support of the five jailed men will be held in Galway at 2pm today.

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