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Irish Independent: Shell ‘offered to pay 15,000’ for support

Published: Oct 17, 2006

Oil giant rejects cash claim by ex-Army officer

A FORMER army officer yesterday claimed Shell offered him 15,000 in return for his support for the construction of the controversial Corrib Gas pipeline and terminal.

Ciaran O Murchu, who heads up the Colaiste Uisce Adventure Centre in Elly Bay, said he had been assured by Shell company officials that nobody would know the money had come from Shell if he agreed to take it. Mr O Murchu turned down the offer.

Shell E and P Ireland said in response to Mr O Murchu’s claims that at no point was such an offer made as it was against their business principles.

Mr O Murchu made the allegations at a public meeting in north Mayo yesterday attended by Independent TDs Dr Jerry Cowley, Seamus Healy, Tony Gregory a and Joe Higgins.

The meeting, which took place close to the Corrib Gas terminal in Bellanaboy, was held amidst a large Garda presence and video-taped by a garda.

All four Dail Deputies said they had come to north Mayo to lend their support to the local people in their campaign of opposition to the giant Shell project.

After each of the public representatives had addressed the crowd of more than 100 protestors, Mr O Murchu went to the microphone. He said he was a former army officer and Air Corps pilot now running a business in the area.

He told the crowd that three-to-four approaches had been made to him by two Shell officials. At the time he was doing some construction work at his adventure centre, building a climbing wall.

“I was asked how much it would cost and I said it would be about 15,000. I was then told the company would pay for it and materials could even be delivered in the middle of the night if it was a problem.

“My business is dependent on local businesses to house young people coming to the adventure centre, so I was aware of the implications of accepting money like this. I was also aware the company wanted to win over me and my staff”.”

Responding to his comments yesterday, Shell E and P Ireland said meetings had taken place between Mr O Murchu and community liaison staff from the Corrib Gas project in respect of his concerns over the outfall pipe from the terminal.

A statement from the company said: “At no point was a payment/grant of 15,000 offered to Mr O Murchu for the building of a climbing wall at his adventure centre.

“The alleged payment is said to have been offered in November 2005 – people will surely question why Mr O Murchu is only bringing this allegation into the public domain at this time.”

The statement said Shell had given a donation of 150 to a windsurfing festival following a request by the businessman. Mr O Murchu confirmed a sports grant had been received from the company to support an event.

Brian McDonald

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