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Irish Independent: Majority want the Shell Corrib pipeline to go ahead, says poll

Published: Nov 24, 2006

A STRONG majority of the people in Co Mayo believe work on the controversial Shell Corrib gas pipeline should be allowed to continue unimpeded.

After months of violent confrontations between protesters and gardai, an opinion poll has found that 70pc want the work to continue without interruption.

The findings are a sharp rebuff to the Shell to Sea campaign which claims it has the support of most people living in the county as well as the Rossport area.

The Red C opinion poll for the Irish Independent/Prime Time also found a majority (53pc) believes the protesters are indulging in intimidation and are being manipulated from outside (52pc).

More (41pc) agree than disagree (36pc) with comments by Justice Minister Michael McDowell that a tiny minority are confronting the law and are being supported by Sinn Fein.

The findings indicate a strong backlash against recent violent incidents involving protesters, many of them bussed in from outside, clashing with gardai at Bellanboy.

The poll found just 8pc agreed with the statement that the protesters speak for all of the community, with 40pc saying the campaign represented a minority.

The findings come a month after an Irish Independent investigation revealed widespread instances of intimidation against those who support the project.

In addition to about 100 local people, Sinn Fein members at a local and national level are heavily involved in the campaign.

A spokesman for Shell Ireland said last night: “We recognise the right of people to protest peacefully but our workers also have a right to go to work.”

Dr Mark Garavan of the Shell to Sea campaign said: “While people can talk about outside influences, there is also ambiguity about the fact that 59pc said they would behave the same way if they were in the protesters’ shoes.”

Ciaran Byrne

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