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Irish Times: Controversy over Corrib gas

Published: Jul 06, 2007

Madam, – Brendan Cafferty’s article arguing that the general election result shows that the Shell to Sea campaign has lost the argument over Corrib gas is flawed on a number of grounds (Opinion & Analysis, July 4th).

Firstly, the Erris Peninsula is one of the least populated areas in the country and consequently has very little electoral clout. No doubt the latter point would have been a key consideration in choosing it as the location for the proposed on-shore refinery in an effort to minimise any political backlash.

Secondly, Dr Jerry Cowley (who opposes the onshore refinery) topped the poll in Pollathomas, the polling station nearest the site of the refinery, and increased his vote 20-fold in the Rossport area. He received a very large vote in Erris generally, substantially greater when he was previously elected. With hindsight, perhaps he should have concentrated his electoral efforts in the urban centres of Mayo but he put his commitment to the rural Erris community ahead of his own political career – the very definition of political integrity.

Nevertheless, the election did produce some very positive results for the Shell to Sea Campaign, with the Green Party, which has to date opposed the current Shell refinery plans, taking office. The Greens have previously sought an independent review of the entire project – something Mr Cafferty finds “unthinkable”. It will be interesting to see if the Greens honour their previous commitments or yield to Mr Cafferty’s view.

It is telling that Mr Cafferty lives 56km from the proposed refinery site. From this comfortable distance he will not be directly affected by gas-flaring or any potential air and water pollution. Well, then, may he ask: “What is it all about?” – Yours etc.

THOMAS McANDREW, Beaupark, Clongriffin, Dublin 13

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