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Western People: Mixed welcome for Shell’s investment fund in Erris

Thursday, September 20, 2007
By: Fiona McGarry

THERE has been mixed reaction to the announcement by Shell E&P Ireland (SEPIL) that it is to set up an investment fund to benefit the Erris region.

The money, which will go towards long-term projects, is being established on the recommendation of the independent mediator, Peter Cassells, but certain groups have dismissed it as a publicity stunt and say they will not apply. Last week, the Corrib Gas Partners also announced a oneoff investment of •150,000 in Belmullet GAA Club.

In his mediation report published at the end of July 2006, Peter Cassells made a number of recommendations, including the modifi-cation of the pipeline route, which is now being addressed; the involvement of Bord Gais Eireann in the project; and the setting up of a long-term investment fund for Erris.

The amount of money to be administered has not yet been decided, but under Mr Cassells’ recommendations it should be “significant” and “front-loaded”. According to the mediator’s report, the initiative “should seek to contribute to the long-term economic, social and environmental development of Rossport, Kilcommen Parish and the Erris area generally”.

The Corrib Gas Partners has now set up an advisory panel from representatives of Mayo County Council, Udaras na Gaeltachta, Mayo County Enterprise Board, Erris Leader and the Council for the West. The panel will meet in the coming weeks to outline an appropriate structure and governance system for the fund. They will be guided in their work by Peter Cassells recommendation that “the process for supporting local development should be appropriate and transparent with a strong involvement of local development agencies and local communities”.

Local reaction to news of the fund has varied, with members of the Erris Inshore Fisherman’s Association accusing the developers of trying to buy the support of the community while continuing to ignore its concerns.

Belmullet GAA Club meanwhile, said it was delighted to receive the seed capital to allow it to pursue a •1.5 million project to develop two full size pitches. Funding has also come from Roinn na Gaeltachta, and it’s hoped that the pitches will be ready in time to host Comortas Peile na Gaeltachta in 2010.

Commenting on the once-off allocation to the club, SEPIL’s Deputy Managing Director Terry Nolan said: “We are proud to be associated with Belmullet GAA and the many other sports clubs and voluntary organisations that we support. I believe funding the developments that Belmullet GAA are undertaking will bring great benefits to many people in the community and I am delighted that the Corrib Gas Partners can be a part of this initiative.” Separately, the Corrib Gas Partners have awarded the first of its third level scholarships, and continues to run a local grants scheme. This year, there were more than 40 applications from sports and voluntary groups.

Projects which have previously benefited from Corrib Gas funding include the Humbert Summer School and Feile Iorrais. and its sister websites,,,,, and are all owned by John Donovan. There is also a Wikipedia article.

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