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Shell rejects bid to free gas protesters

Irish Independent: Shell rejects bid to free gas protesters

A spokesperson for the jailed men, Mark Garavan, said that Shell’s response to the initiative was unsurprising. “They [Shell] are in a mess of their own making now. By seeking the injunction in the first place they have precipitated this crisis and Shell are unable to get out of it because they are so legally exposed.”

Saturday Sep 03, 2005

SHELL has rejected a proposed legal compromise which could have led to the release of five jailed Mayo men who have opposed the controversial Corrib Gas line.

The compromise had been mooted by Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny following a meeting with the men this week in Cloverhill Prison.

However, the energy company said yesterday it could not waive its injunction against the five objectors because it was needed to prevent any future obstruction of its operations.

Taoiseach Bertie Ahern also yesterday ruled out Government intervention in the case. Speaking in North Tipperary during a constituency tour, Mr Ahern made it clear that the only way to secure the men’s release was for them to purge their contempt.

Reacting to Mr Kenny’s assertion that a legal compromise could be found, the Taoiseach said there appeared to be “no new initiative” available that would resolve the situation.

Mr Kenny had suggested that a 1970s legal precedent offered hope of a compromise. However, the Taoiseach said there was “no easy way around contempt of court” except to purge contempt.

Asked if nothing could be done to free the men, the Taoiseach replied: “They can do something – they can purge their contempt. That does not take away all their rights.”

In a statement yesterday, Shell said that a case history referred to by Mr Kenny concerned an injunction against only one party – in a husband-and-wife dispute – and did indicate the possibility of an injunction being withdrawn once the necessity for its existence had been overcome.

“However, the injunction which SEPIL [Shell E&P Ireland Limited] has obtained is binding on a wide range of parties who have notice of its existence, not just the five men in question.

“The injunction is necessary in the event of any party obstructing our work at some future date, even if the current concerns of the landowners are addressed.”

The company added that it would arrange to meet the legal advisors of the five men to discuss the matter further.

A spokesperson for the jailed men, Mark Garavan, said that Shell’s response to the initiative was unsurprising. “They [Shell] are in a mess of their own making now. By seeking the injunction in the first place they have precipitated this crisis and Shell are unable to get out of it because they are so legally exposed.”

Ben Quinnand Eugene Hogan

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