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Western People: Issues of engineering and human rights aired at two Erris meetings

Wednesday, March 07, 2007
By: Daniel Hickey

AT separate meetings in Erris last week, both sides in the gas dispute were given the opportunity to air their views on the on-going row over the route of the proposed pipeline.

The meetings, held on two consecutive nights, address-esd concerns with the Corrib Gas terminal, the proposed pipeline, and struggle that has at times erupted in violence.

On Tuesday night last, in the Broadhaven Bay Hotel in Belmullet, RPS engineering consultants – recently appointed by Shell E&P Ireland to hasten the selection of an onshore pipeline route – held their first public meeting. The meeting, according to Shell, was part of the first phase of consultation with the community and landowners around criteria for selecting a new pipeline route. This phase is expected to last until the end of April

PJ Rudden, Group Director for RPS, said that he was pleased with the response to the first public meeting on the issue of the new pipeline route. Mr Rudden added that it gave his team an opportunity to listen to the views of local landowners and residents at first hand.

The night before Denny Larson, of Global Community Monitor (GCM), had consultations with the public in Erris.

Global Community Monitor (GCM) is an environmental justice and human rights non-profit organization that, according to its website, “empowers industrial communities to recreate a clean healthy and truly sustainable environment.”

Last week, they sent an international fact-finding delegation consisting of various experts from Holland, Belgium, England, South Africa and the United States to North Mayo to investigate a possible human rights case regarding Gardai, government and corporate actions. A public hearing took place on Monday night in Glenamoy Community Hall.

“The meeting went well,” said Denny Larson. “About 65 people attended, and 22 gave testimony.”

A transcript of the testimonies will be uploaded to the organisation’s website – www.gcmonitor.org – within a week to 10 days.

“We’re off to a good start as far as the gathering of information goes,” said Mr Larson. “We’ve also got a submission from the pro-gas group. So it’s encouraging.”

GCM’s final report will be issued at the end of April.

“We can’t say exactly at the moment who it will be forwarded to. Depending upon what arises from the investigation, the report could be sent to the appropriate commissions in Ireland, in the EU, and internationally.”

Two quite different consultations then, with contrasting backgrounds and expectations, the questions on the Tuesday night at odds with those on the Monday, perhaps highlighting what many in Erris, and elsewhere, regard as the wall between corporate interests and local ones.

Both GCM and RPS will continue to seek information and feedback from the community over the coming weeks.

RPS has opened an office in Belmullet so that people can drop in and discuss any issues or concerns.

And GCM will gather information until March 15th.

Information can be sent via email to dennylarsongcmonitor.org or by post to the Kilcommin Lodge in Pollathomas.

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