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Corribsos.com: Rossport Five Press Statement

FEB 2 2006
On the 29th June last we were imprisoned due to our opposition to Shell’s proposed pipeline in North Mayo. Since then, our position has been vindicated by the Accufacts and Corcoran Reports and even, despite its flawed and limited terms of reference, the Advantica Report.
In our ‘Open Letter’ from prison in August we proposed entering into talks with Shell to resolve the conflict once their injunction on us was lifted. On the day prior to the application by Shell to the High Court to vacate the injunction, Minister Dempsey proposed mediation between Shell and us. We accepted this proposal in good faith hoping that it indicated Shell’s acceptance that their project could only proceed with community consent.
On that day, September 29th, the Minister said:
''Following the debates [in the Dail] I contacted both sides in an effort to break the impasse and have indicated that the Government will appoint a mediator if both sides are willing to participate in a mediation process. I am now calling on both parties to create the conditions which will allow
such a process to commence immediately.''
The following week in the Dail the Minister announced:
''As the House is aware, both sides responded positively to my indication on Thursday last that the Government would appoint a mediator provided both sides were willing to respond positively. The response was positive, the injunction was lifted and the men released … I am now moving, in consultation with both sides, to identify a person or body who might be willing to undertake that work. It is my intention that by this weekend a list of possible mediators will be provided to both sides to establish their acceptability and to see if we can come up with an agreed name. As soon as that process is complete, the mediator will then commence the work.”
It is clear from these remarks that mediation was envisaged and understood by us and any reasonable observer to be between the Rossport Five and Shell.
On the 29th October, Minister Dempsey announced:
''The Minister for Communications, Marine & Natural Resources, Noel Dempsey T.D., has today appointed Peter Cassells as mediator in the Corrib Gas Project Dispute. It has been agreed that Mr. Cassells will have access to and support from the Mediators Institute Ireland''.
In our early informal discussions with Mr. Cassells he confirmed to us that mediation was to be a process between the Rossport Five and Shell.
It now transpires that Minister Dempsey misled us and possibly the Dail as to the true nature of what he understood mediation to mean. On January 25th, the Minister stated in a written reply to Jerry Cowley TD:
“I also nominated a mediator, Mr. Peter Cassells, to work with the community and the developer”.
In addition, the Minister said:
“The role of the mediator is wider than just the gas project and I understand he is looking at the availability of services generally throughout the region, including in particular, the role of gas supply in the area.”
Nothing in our understanding of mediation could have implied our acceptance of this definition of the process. The Minister was now unilaterally proposing that the mediation process include anyone who had any views to contribute. This clearly was against what had been agreed with us and rendered mediation impractical and amounting more to a process of investigating local views. As late as yesterday evening the Minister was on local radio in Mayo informing listeners that he had never meant the mediation to be between Shell and the imprisoned men.
Our agreement to enter into direct talks with Shell was a serious decision. Shell after all were responsible for our jailing and the breaking up of our families for three months. It is with great concern and anger that we discover that Minister Dempsey omitted to tell the Dail and us in October that he had in mind a much wider process that could not warrant the designation ‘mediation’.
Our concern is that the Minister’s real intentions all along have been to obtain a favourable safety report from Advantica, complete a bizarre form of mediation and then announce to the public the continuation of the Corrib gas project whatever the cost. Subjugation not mediation!
We call on the restoration of proper mediation where both sides work together, confidentially and without reporting to a third-party, to reach agreement. We call on Minister Dempsey to cease interfering with and re-defining the process agreed by Shell and ourselves. Finally, we call on Mr. Cassells to defend the integrity of the mediation process from this political inteference.
Vincent McGrath
Michael O Seighin
Willie Corduff
Philip McGrath
Brendan Philbin
For verification and comment contact Dr. Mark Garavan 087-9023687

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