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Irish Independent: Gas pipe opponents' challenge allowed

By Ann O Loughlin
A NUMBER of residents being sued by Shell over their opposition to gas pipeline works may amend their defences to include claims that there is no valid consent for the pipeline, the High Court ruled yesterday.
However, while permitting such amendments, Justice Mary Laffoy said she was disposed to direct the trial of a preliminary issue as to whether the defendants could raise public law issues in the case.
The question whether the issues raised can be dealt with in the proceedings will have to be addressed at some time, she said.
She would not direct a trial of the preliminary issue until Shell and the Marine Minister Noel Dempsey had delivered their replies and defences, and until all the issues between the sides had been clearly identified.
She was dealing with a number of preliminary legal issues in the action by Shell E and P Ireland against five local people and a photographer arising from their opposition to the gas pipeline development near Rossport, Co Mayo.
The defendants are Philip McGrath, James B Philbin, Willie Corduff, Monica Muller, Brid McGarry and Mr Peter Sweetman, the latter with an address at Rathmines in Dublin.
In its proceedings against the six, Shell alleges they obstructed and interfered with Shell's entry onto lands. The defendants have denied the claims. After delivering her decision, the judge said she required the sides to further consider a number of matters and returned the action to Wednesday next.

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