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Irish Times: Wiwa criticises Shell for offering 'peanuts' in return for Corrib deal

Wiwa criticises Shell for offering 'peanuts' in return for Corrib deal

Tom Shiel
Irish Times; May 22, 2006


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A quiet mountain road taken by hundreds of starving Famine victims during the spring of 1849 resembled a colourful, cosmopolitan boulevard as some 300 people participated in the annual Afri Famine Walk from Doolough to Louisburgh, Co Mayo, at the weekend.

Singer Christy Moore gave a few haunting snatches of a famine song before reversing his peaked cap and facing into a cold northerly wind, which furrowed the waters of adjacent Doo Lough, before heading off at the head of the long column of walkers.

He was joined in the vanguard by the other leaders of the 10-mile annual walk: Nigerian environmentalist Owens Wiwa and Rossport couple Vincent and Maureen McGrath who are opposed to the onshore Corrib Gas pipeline.

The theme of this year's walk was “Land for People not for Profit” with the organisers focusing on the issues of resources in the Niger Delta and Erris, Co Mayo, where “land, resources and profits lie at the heart of conflicts and at the heart of poverty and inequality throughout the world”.

Speaking to reporters after completing part of the walk, Dr Wiwa, a brother of the late Ken Saro Wiwa, who along with other members of the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People was executed by the Nigerian government for protesting about the exploitation of their land by oil companies, gave his opinion on the impasse over Corrib Gas in north Mayo.

Dr Wiwa, a physician now based in Toronto, Canada, said he felt the best outcome would be either for Shell to go to sea or find an alternative route for the controversial onshore pipeline.

“Within this period I think that Shell should get a better deal for Ireland in terms of the ownership of the gas resources and cut a better deal for the people. Why should a company come and take everything and give peanuts?” There was a false promise of significant new employment being created in Erris once gas was brought ashore, Dr Wiwa said.

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