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Irish Times: Company welcomes ruling, urges dialogue

Lorna Siggins, Marine Correspondent
Apr 08, 2006
Shell E&P Ireland and the five Co Mayo men jailed last year over opposition to the Corrib gas onshore pipeline have both welcomed yesterday's ruling by the president of the High Court, Mr Justice Finnegan.
Dr Mark Garavan, spokesman for the five men, said there was “general and genuine relief” at the High Court president's decision not to punish the five further over their contempt of court – for which they spent 94 days in jail. However, the core issues relating to the pipeline project still had to be addressed, he said, and serious safety issues remained.
Work on the 900-million Corrib gas project is currently suspended, pending a decision by Minister for the Marine Noel Dempsey in relation to a final safety report on the high-pressure pipeline. Shell E&P Ireland called yesterday on the minister to publish the findings.
Mediation between Shell and the five men has also been suspended since early February. However, it is understood that former Ictu secretary-general Peter Cassells, appointed mediator by Mr Dempsey last year, is due to meet the parties next week to clarify ground rules he released several weeks ago, in an effort to resume the negotiations.
Shell E&P Ireland's managing director, Andy Pyle, said that now the legal issues surrounding lifting of a temporary injunction on the five men had been concluded, he hoped “we can all now move forward” and that Shell “can enter into meaningful dialogue with the five objectors”.
The company is reviewing the High Court president's written ruling and “will give careful consideration” to the issue of costs, he said. It was also “fully committed” to mediation led by Mr Cassells.
However, Mr Pyle said it would be “helpful” for the Minister to “publish at the earliest possible juncture the findings of the independent safety review completed by Advantica”.
“Safety is Shell E&P Ireland's first priority and today we again reaffirm our commitment to fully implement the recommendations contained in Advantica's draft independent safety review which was published before Christmas,” he said.
The draft safety review had recommended the pipeline's pressure be limited and that Ireland adopt a formal “risk-based framework” for assessing the safety of major infrastructural projects.
However, Shell issued a statement in late December in which it did not accept all its findings, taking issue with points made by consultants. It accepted the “principle” of limiting gas pressure.

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