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Mayo Advertiser: Shell admits ‘mistakes’ but says Corrib project will go ahead

Current Publication Date: 18/05/2007
Fiona McGarry

At its AGM this week, Royal Dutch Shell admitted that mistakes had been made when the project to develop the Corrib gas field first got off the ground.

Hundreds of shareholders, including Willie Corduff and other members of Shell to Sea, attended the meeting on Tuesday in the Hague. Mr Corduff attended as a shareholder of Royal Dutch Shell, after Shell to Sea received an anonymous donation last year of 50 shares in the company.

Mr Corduff, together with Shell to Sea spokesperson John Maughan and Terence Conway, used their entitlement as shareholders to speak at the meeting. The men made statements accusing the company of ignoring the concerns of the community in Rossport. Statements in support of Shell to Sea were also made by video-link by two other shareholders at a London venue.

In response, an Executive Director for Exploration and Production Malcolm Brinded said the company had made mistakes at the outset, and regretted the jailing of the Rossport Five. Mr Brinded stressed, however, that the project to develop the gas terminal at Bellanaboy would go ahead once the proposed pipeline was re-routed. He said the project had met regulatory and environmental requirements, and thanked the law enforcement agencies for their role in managing protests.

Before the meeting, some of the Mayo group spoke to the Chief Executive of Royal Dutch Shell and invited him to north Mayo. Jeroen Van der Veer said it was unfortunate that divisions had been created by the project and noted that the company had expressed its apologies.

Members of Shell to Sea have been working with a Shell shareholder grouping, the Ecumenical Council for Corporate Responsibility.

The group, which is made up of representatives of mainstream Christian denominations, church bodies and individuals, is a shareholder in Royal Dutch Shell. It has produced a number of reports on the behaviour of multinationals such as Shell, BP, and other global companies. The ECCR is currently compiling a report on the €900 million Corrib gas project.

Members of Shell to Sea travelling to the Hague were assisted with their travel expenses by Milieu Defensie, a Dutch organisation opposed to Shell’s activities in Nigeria.

Meanwhile, tributes were paid to Willie Corduff at a meeting of Mayo County Council, held this week in Belmullet. Fianna Fáil Councillor Tim Quinn proposed the motion, saying that Mr Corduff was to be commended for recently winning the Goldman Prize.

Fine Gael Whip Cllr Paddy McHugh seconded the motion on behalf of his party, saying everyone wanted to be associated with commending Mr Corduff for securing the prestigious international environmental award.

Cllr Quinn also paid tribute to everyone who attended the oral hearing held by the Environmental Protection Agency in Belmullet. Cllr Quinn said that all those who attended the hearing on a pollution licence for the gas terminal had produced “very well-researched” information.

Yesterday (Thursday) a number of Dublin-based Shell to Sea members took part in a parade held annually by the Irish/Norweigan community in the capital.

The protesters are drawing comparisons between how well the Norwegian Government treats its citizens, and how the Irish people are losing out on potential gains from the Corrib gas field.

The Scandinavian state will profit from 25 per cent of the Corrib gas field, thanks to its ownership of Statoil. Protesters at yesterday’s event claimed the Norwegian government would never impose such a refinery on its own people because of health and safety concerns.

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