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Irish Times: Campaign against Shell project for Corrib gas

Published: Nov 09, 2006

FIRST LETTER

Madam, – The dismissal by Minister for the Marine Noel Dempsey of Shell to Sea’s initiative as reported by Lorna Siggins (Nov 7th) is most disturbing. This follows his self-serving declaration that the Erris situation is as intractable as that in the North.

Let us be quite clear. Shell’s “modus operandi” is firmly established internationally: it will only operate to the minimum standards required by the client government.

It is not Shell but Mr Dempsey’s Government which dictates the play. It forms one side of this dispute.

On the other side is the community at large and its right to be fully informed on how its natural resources are to be used, together with the community of Erris and their genuine environmental concerns at a local level.

Mr Dempsey cannot have forgotten that it was through his predecessor, the disgraced Ray Burke, that the current regime under which our oil/gas reserves would be exploited was devised, that through his colleague Frank Fahey Shell was provided with a State-owned site and highly questionable licences and pipeline permissions, that through his Government’s local Mayo councillors permission for Shell’s refinery was delivered on a singularly inappropriate site and it is now through the daily deployment of large numbers of gardaI, our gardaI, at our expense, that the refinery’s construction is being forced on the people of Erris.

Mr Dempsey’s reference to the North, designed to suggest his impartiality, was laughable. It does, however, have some ironic resonance.

In the North, a government which represented sectional interests continually failed to address the rights and concerns of a section of its community and for years failed to respond to initiatives, using the might of its police force to suppress dissent in the belief that it would dissipate.

It did not dissipate, and the situation could only be resolved by external intervention.

The dissent of the people of Erris will not dissipate either. Here in the South, Mr Dempsey’s Government cannot be allowed to “say No”.

It is now time for independent intervention, and a public commission of inquiry to investigate this project in its totality.

This inquiry must include all national and local concerns: technical, environmental and financial, including any contributions that may have been made to political representatives, local businessmen or landowners. This is the least the Irish taxpayer deserves. – Yours, etc,

BERNARD GRIMES,

Lindsay Road,

Glasnevin,

Dublin 9.

SECOND LETTER

Madam, – In August I wrote to Noel Dempsey TD in his capacity as Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources, to ask why he would not consider a visit to the Rossport/Bellanaboy area to see the situation for himself and to speak with the local people.

In a (very) brief reply on the August 21st the Minister stated – “As a Minister I am very well aware of my responsibilities and duties. They involve ensuring due consideration of the national interest, not just narrow local interests”.

A natural asset of the Irish nation has been given away for nothing. A CPO has been used for the first and only time for the benefit of a private company.

The Irish taxpayer faces a bill of about 750,000 for policing on behalf of this company. Irish citizens are potentially being put in danger to suit this company.

At what point will the Minister see the matter become one of national interest? – Yours, etc,

RICHARD MURPHY,

PRO,

Westmeath Environmental Group,

Mullingar

THIRD LETTER

Madam, – In your paper of Saturday November 4th you published a letter signed by a number of people from the Erris area questioning the right of a named person from Ballina to comment on the issue of Corrib Gas project on the basis that he lived “40 miles away”.

This is petty and parochialism at its worst. The contradiction is that quite a few of the protesters do not come from the area, but from places distant, and are welcomed by Shell to Sea.

On Monday November 6th you also published an article by Lorna Siggins in which it was stated that “several people had been injured” during the protests and also that several people had been arrested. The inference is that those people were injured by the gardaI, which is not the case.

What about the garda who was injured and taken to hospital? Thankfully, the number of injuries has been remarkably low and I hope it stays that way.

More objective reporting by your paper on this matter would be of great benefit to all. – Yours, etc,

DECLAN GILCHRIST,

Ballina

Mayo

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