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Rossport Five could face jail until October

The Mayo News Online (Ireland): Rossport Five could face jail until October

“The legal teams are talking, and are in continual contact, but there is little point calling for dialogue when one party are being extremist and are not going to give anything. Shell will not vacate the injunction because they wish to have recourse to this court order in the future. I don’t know if their intention is to imprison everyone in Rossport, but this is an appalling situation. Taking out full-page advertisements in newspapers is only PR.”

Wednesday 31 August 2005

NO movement seems likely in the ongoing case of the Rossport Five, with one leading opponent of the Corrib onshore pipeline admitting little progress is likely prior to October.

Wednesday of last week saw Cllr Henry Kenny, Cathaoirleach of Mayo County Council, meet the five imprisoned men in Cloverhill Prison, along with Cllr Paddy McGuinness, Fine Gael whip on the authority. The men had said they would purge their contempt of court if Shell E&P Ireland Ltd (SEPIL) were to remove the injunction which ultimately led to their incarceration, and there were fleeting hopes last week that enough common ground existed between the two sides’ respective legal teams to allow this to happen.

However, SEPIL issued a statement after the meeting stating their legal stance regarding the injunction remained unchanged. “SEPIL has received feedback from the councillors on the discussions and appreciates confirmation that the objectors would purge their contempt and enter into dialogue if the injunction were set aside. While the legal impediments to the removal of the injunction remain, SEPIL is examining with its legal advisors what options, if any, are possible to overcome the current impasse.”

Cllr McGuinness expressed disappointment that the injunction would not be lifted, but told The Mayo News this week that he believed dialogue held the key to breaking the deadlock.

“Our approach is to see if the Council can play some further role towards finding a formula that will allow the legal teams on both sides to lift the injunction. Talking is the only way forward, and two things must happen now. Firstly, the dignity of the parties must be respected on both sides and, secondly, there has to be the will to move matters on.”

He said the Council remained committed to facilitating a resolution.

However, Shell to Sea campaigner Mr Mark Garavan said the true test of SEPIL’s commitment to dialogue lay in lifting the injunction, and they had failed to do so. “The legal teams are talking, and are in continual contact, but there is little point calling for dialogue when one party are being extremist and are not going to give anything. Shell will not vacate the injunction because they wish to have recourse to this court order in the future. I don’t know if their intention is to imprison everyone in Rossport, but this is an appalling situation. Taking out full-page advertisements in newspapers is only PR.”

He reiterated his call to the country’s political parties to urge SEPIL to remove the injunction, and admitted that no progress looked likely in the near future. “It doesn’t look like anything is going to happen before a full legal hearing which is provisionally fixed for October. Shell are hiding behind legal obstacles, and their own tactics and strategy.”

He also said that Shell to Sea were placing no importance in the appointment by Minister for the Marine, Communications and Natural Resources, Noel Dempsey, of Advantica to conduct an Independent Safety Review of the pipeline. Advantica, the successful tender, have previously worked for Shell, but Minister Dempsey said this was not considered a conflict of interest. “The purpose of the review is to meet the concerns and fears expressed by local residents in relation to the safety of the onshore pipeline. I am satisfied that the company identified by the TAG [Technical Advisory Group], Advantica, have the requisite knowledge and experience to conduct this review to the highest possible standards and I will ensure that a communication mechanism is put in place between the local residents and the consultants,” he said.

Mr Garavan said the review would not analyse the relevant aspects of the pipeline. “This review is going to ask if the pipeline is designed to do what it is meant to do. Our concern is with its location, and consequences of a pipeline rupture. We want to know how many people will die if this happens. It is as blunt as that.”

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