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Corrib New Year impasse

The Mayo News

TUESDAY, 13 JANUARY 2009
Corrib in new year impasse as County Council criticised

Áine Ryan

UNLESS a last-ditch breakthrough happens in the coming days it looks like the North West Mayo Forum, scheduled for Monday next, January 19, will be boycotted again by community groups Pobal Chill Chomáin and Pobal le Chéile. 

Mr John Monaghan of Pobal Chill Chomáin yesterday (Monday) criticised the corporate ethics of a recent dinner hosted by Mayo County Council for two committees involved in the monitoring of the project. However, Mayo County Council has staunchly defended the claim in a detailed statement.

Regarding the forum, established by Ministers Ó Cuív and Ryan some months ago, The Mayo News understands that the two groups sent a letter to Chairman, Mr Joe Brosnan, yesterday urging for ‘a gesture’ that might build community trust. It cited Shell’s withdrawal before Christmas of its application to An Bord Pleanála for a modified pipeline route as a significant example of the project’s lack of consents. 

While the letter welcomes Mr Brosnan’s request for informal discussions, it reiterates the fact that the groups want ‘an agreed solution to the Corrib gas conflict’ and, therefore, cannot engage in initiatives that, by their terms of reference, fail to offer a meaningful prospect of success. 
The signatories also urge that the focus is on ‘a solution’ rather than ‘an illusion’, which must include the health, safety and environment of the receiving community is of equal concern to the bringing of the Corrib gas to market.

Meanwhile, Mr  Monaghan told The Mayo News yesterday there was a serious moral anomaly in a regulator – Mayo County Council, in this case – ‘wining and dining’ a developer. “At best, the dinner was highly inappropriate in that it was effectively the regulator wining and dining the developer, and even worse still, at the public’s expense,” said Mr Monaghan.

He said due to the controversy around the project, it was highly ‘imprudent’ of the Council to fraternise in such a way. “It leaves the community in no doubt as to the Council’s partiality,” he added.

On the other hand, the County Secretary, Mr John Condon, said the Council ‘did not accept such claims’. In a statement, he explained that the dinner was held for the Corrib Project Monitoring Committee (PMC) which is chaired by the County Manager, and was established to comply with a planning permission condition. The statement notes that this committee is composed of all stakeholders, including representatives of the local community.  

The project’s Environmental Monitoring Group (EMG) was also invited. It was also established to comply with certain conditions of consent and includes representatives from all stakeholders and from the local community. Both the EMG – which is chaired by a member of the Department of Natural Resources – and the PMC have a considerable overlap in personnel, the statement continues.

He concludes that, as a token of goodwill, the dinner was hosted in the Mulranny Park Inn hotel following a pre-Christmas meeting. The meal was also attended by members of the Bord Gáis Eireann project team.

The statement also confirms Mayo County Council paid for the total cost of the meeting facilities and meal which was €1,675.

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