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Rossport Five ‘constrained’ by pending High Court case

Western People (Ireland): Rossport Five ‘constrained’ by pending High Court case

Wednesday 19 October 2005

Mr Micheal Ó Seighin, one of the Rossport Five, made a brief appearance at the public consultation where Dr Mark Garavan, Spokesperson for Shell to Sea made a statement on behalf of the men.

Dr Garavan explained that the statement was the men’s way of indicating their willingness to engage constructively in resolving the Corrib Gas crisis. It provided them with a way in which to explain why they felt it was impossible for them to participate. Public consultations should be held prior to decisions being made.

“The Corrib Gas Plan of Development has been signed off in April 2002, committing the State to support the development concept proposed by Shell. Compulsory Acquisition Orders on our lands have already been granted without an oral hearing. The pipeline has been exempted from planning permission.

“Public consultation was required prior to these decisions and not after. It is therefore unclear to us what purpose today’s hearing has other than to attempt to retrospectively suggest that consultation has occurred and to provide a post hoc justification for decisions already made.”

The Rossport Five maintain that in arranging for a public consultation on the onshore pipeline, the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources had, in effect, acknowledged that consultation had not occurred to date.

Mr Garavan stated that the Rossport Five had already made clear that the Safety Review, of which the consultation process was a part, was too narrow in its terms of reference: “The review is predicated upon the development concept proposed by Shell and therefore accepts the production pipeline as a given. It then poses technical safety questions of that pipeline. “Our concerns run far deeper than that. We believe that the entire Corrib Gas project needs to be subjected to a thorough review on health and safety grounds so that the best development concept is used. We have argued and will argue that this is best achieved through a shallow water offshore process. The Advantica review will not measure the safety of the proposed pipeline against alternative development concepts.”

Dr Garavan stated that the Advantica Review would be addressing questions which the Rossport Five have not posed. “What is crucially important to understand is that our opposition to the proposed pipeline is grounded firmly on our analysis of the consequences of an accident given the extraordinary proximity of the pipeline to our homes. We say that this would be catastrophic for ourselves and our community.”

Dr Garavan proceeded to outline further constraints to the Rossport Five’s participation in the public consultation. They could not be expected to deal with matters that may be subject of the High Court hearing they are involved in as a result of Shell’s attempts to obtain a permanent injunction against them. Their contributions to the consultation might also pre-empt issues which they hope to raise in the course of the mediation process which is to take place between them and Shell.

Dr Garavan concluded the statement from the men saying: “Finally, we want to record that we were released following 94 days of imprisonment less than two weeks ago and have been slowly recovering from our ordeal with out family and friends. This hearing is taking place at a time that is, for obvious reasons, not opportune for us.” The statement was met with applause from the audience.

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