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The Mayo Advertiser: Goldman Prize celebrations continue for Willie Corduff

The Mayo Advertiser

(Willie Corduff, winner of the 2007 Goldman Environmental Prize, with his wife Mary, following his release from prison in September 2005. Mr Corduff spent 94 days with the rest of the Rossport Five on foot of their opposition to the route of the high pressure pipeline serving the proposed Corrib gas terminal. Photo: William Hederman.)

Friday 27/04/2007
by Fiona McGarry

Rossport man Willie Corduff is still attending a series of engagements in the US today (Friday), after being named one of the winners of this year’s prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize.

The 53-year-old farmer was presented with what is compared to the Nobel Prize for environmental issues. The Goldman Prize comes with a cash award of close to €92,000, which Mr Corduff says will be spent on advancing the campaign of opposition to Shell E&PI’s plan to build a gas refinery in Bellanaboy in north Mayo.

Willie Corduff is one of six winners of this year’s Goldman Prize, and took his place on the international stage with recipients from Peru, Mongolia, Canada and Zambia.

Since news of Mr Corduff’s award broke, tributes have flowed in from political and other quarters. Deputy Michael D Higgins, President of the Labour Party said: “This prestigious award, awarded to Willie in San Francisco, recognises his work as a community leader in protecting the local environment in north Mayo and is very well deserved. However, it once again highlights the controversy over the Corrib gas pipeline which has been ongoing for nearly eight years now with still no firm prospect of a final resolution that is acceptable to all.” Closer to home, Labour General Election candidate Harry Barrett also welcomed Mr Corduff’s award, as did Mayo Independent Dep Jerry Cowley. Dep Cowley said that Willie Corduff and his wife Mary and their family “have been to hell and back in the last few years”. He also said the Goldman Prize was “an international recognition of the legitimacy of the campaign to reconfigure the Corrib gas project”.

Within the Shell to Sea organisation, spokesperson John Monaghan wished “continued success in their ongoing endeavours” to Mr Corduff and other opponents of the Corrib gas project. Meanwhile, Seanad candidate Dr Mark Garavan said the award constituted “a very significant international validation of the merits and legitimacy” of the campaign of opposition.

Commenting on his win, Willie Corduff himself said he was very surprised by the award. “I didn’t expect this prize,” he said. “ We didn’t start this campaign to win any prizes. We didn’t think anyone out there was watching with a view to giving a prize.”

On the future of his ongoing opposition to Shell E&PI’s plans, Mr Corduff said: “I hope this prize will have a big effect on the campaign; that people will realise the damage being done to Erris and Ireland. I hope people here in Ireland will think that the prize must have been given for a reason. I hope that more people will listen, that more people will become aware before it’s too late, before the damage is done. Hopefully this will have an effect on Irish politicians; maybe some will listen before the election.”

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