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Irish Times: Dempsey calls for end to Corrib dispute

Irish Times: Dempsey calls for end to Corrib dispute

“It is understood that legal teams for Shell and the five men were in contact last night with a view to a court hearing today which may result in the injunction being dropped.”

Friday September 30, 2005

Lorna Siggins, Marine Correspondent

Minister for the Marine Noel Dempsey has called on both sides involved in the Corrib gas controversy to “create the conditions” for a resolution, as a prelude to a possible breakthrough in the impasse.

In a statement issued last night, the Minister said he had been in contact with both Shell E&P Ireland and representatives of the five imprisoned Mayo men, following this week’s discussions at a joint Oireachtas committee and in the Dail chamber on the issue.

The Minister said he had indicated the Government was willing to appoint a mediator “if both sides were willing to participate in a mediation process”. He said he was “now calling on both parties to create the conditions which will allow such a process to commence immediately”.

It is understood that legal teams for Shell and the five men were in contact last night with a view to a court hearing today which may result in the injunction being dropped.

Although Mr Dempsey has tried unsuccessfully before to appoint a mediator, it is understood he is now confident Shell may seek to drop its injunction against the five imprisoned men who are opposed to the onshore gas pipeline. Senior representatives of Statoil, the Norwegian-owned shareholder in the Corrib gas field, have been in Ireland this week, and held discussions with the Labour Party’s marine spokesman Tommy Broughan yesterday.

Statoil is known to be seriously concerned about the situation, following a visit to Norway last week by representatives of the men’s families and Mayo TD Dr Jerry Cowley.

Should Shell decide to change its legal position, the five men would be in a position to purge their contempt and be released after over 90 days in prison.

A Shell spokesman said last night that the company’s position on the injunction was “unchanged”, while a spokesman for the five men, Dr Mark Garavan, said he welcomed the Minister’s offer of mediation but said it was dependent on the injunction being lifted as the men could not negotiate at a disadvantage in prison.

The Minister said he had endeavoured “at every opportunity” to create conditions which would allow a resolution.

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