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Irish Times: Controversy over Mayo pipeline

Irish Times: Controversy over Mayo pipeline

“I should make it clear that during the course of their imprisonment, my concern was to make constructive proposals to the Government, Shell and the men themselves that might lead to their release.”

Thursday Oct 13, 2005

Madam, – In a letter in your edition of October 11th, five men from Rossport, Co Mayo criticise my attitude to their imprisonment. I want to make it clear that at all times I believe the rule of law must be upheld in a democracy.

If the law is inappropriate or inadequate then it should be changed, but until it is changed it must be upheld.

I should make it clear that during the course of their imprisonment, my concern was to make constructive proposals to the Government, Shell and the men themselves that might lead to their release.

To that end, I visited the men three times in jail; I visited the site in Rossport and was in virtually daily contact with people locally about a range of different issues and opinions.

I proposed an independent review of health and safety issues and the Government accepted my suggestion. Shell agreed to cease work on the pipeline following that development and Fine Gael lawyers spent considerable time with the legal representatives of Shell to facilitate the lifting of the injunction. On the first day back in the Dail I used Leaders’ Questions to have the Government agree to the appointment of a mediator.

The reason I did not attend public meetings about the Rossport situation was because I was told that only those who had signed up to a particular document could speak at the meetings. I, however, believe in free speech. I attend public meetings and say what I believe, not what I’m told to say, or do not attend at all. I have no intention of either being “shamed” or forced into support by any group for their particular issue.

This applies in all cases. I cannot, and will not, conduct my business in any other manner.

A minor point in the letter but incorrect nevertheless was that I said that Sinn Fein organised the sit-in in my constituency office. In fact it was an RTE reporter who said this and I understand that this was corrected by RTE the following week.

I hope that following the next General Election Fine Gael in government will restore trust to politics. It will stand by the truth and the rule of law and will see to it that by good and decisive government we can build a country of which we can be truly proud. As a Mayo man I would be happy to see Rossport share in that pride. – Yours, etc,

ENDA KENNY, Leader, Fine Gael, Dail Eireann, Dublin 2.

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