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Irish Times: Protests over Mayo pipeline

Oct 14, 2006

Madam, – Joe Murray, co-ordinator of the NGO Afri (October 11th), repeats known untruths about Shell.

Ken Saro Wiwa and eight colleagues were arrested and – after a rigged trial – executed in 1995 by Nigeria’s brutal military dictatorship of the day, not for “trying to protect their people and land” [ from Shell], but for inciting the murder of four elders from their own Ogoni tribe who did not agree with their (largely anti-Shell) activities. Shell had no hand in their fate, and was horrified by it. To suggest collusion is, quite simply, a grievous calumny.

The Irish legal system jailed the Rossport Five for contempt of an injunction to stop interfering with Shell’s lawful construction activities; Shell did not call for their imprisonment, only for the exercise of the injunction.

Moreover, numerous expert studies have all concluded that the Corrib pipeline is not “dangerous”, no matter that the protesters may think it is. (I may think the world is flat, but that doesn’t make it so.)

The valiant gardaI at Ballinaboy are protecting not Shell but the democratic law of the land, which is their constitutional duty. And by the way, it is clear from TV pictures that they are using the absolute minimum of force to do so.

Shell’s commitment to human rights, especially in Nigeria, is huge. If Mr Murray thinks Shell “has never been known to allow human rights to stand in the way of its pursuit of profit”, perhaps I should explain why Shell’s oil production in Nigeria, which was once 1.2 million barrels per day, is currently only 700,000. The half-million shortfall arises because Shell has voluntarily shut down dozens of its Nigerian oilfields attacked or threatened by militants, rather than risk violence by calling on the (lawful) protection of the security forces, for fear they will use lethal means. Shell’s concern for the human rights of Nigerians is causing a large loss of profit for its shareholders.

Shell’s activities do not lead to the wanton loss of life in Nigeria; neither will they in this country. – Yours, etc,

TONY ALLWRIGHT, Killiney, Co Dublin.

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