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Hearing chairman ‘ignored’ key question

Friday, May 22, 2009

ÁINE RYAN

THE CHAIRMAN of an An Bord Pleanála hearing was yesterday accused of “obfuscation” and “failing to answer questions” about issues relating to its jurisdiction over ongoing works by Shell at the landfall site of the Corrib gas project at Glengad.

At the opening of the third day of the hearing on the modified pipeline route, held in Belmullet, Co Mayo, Martin Nolan said it would be a matter for the board on “whether or not to seek a legal opinion” about the issues raised and he noted that the planning board had powers to reopen the hearing.

He also referred to the general parameters of the Strategic Infrastructure Act and said these issues could be raised by any party at the appropriate junctures in the hearing.

However, he did not specifically refer to a section of the proposed pipeline route – above the mean high water mark at Glengad that Shell is already working on.

This is the location where a series of clashes occurred between protesters, gardaí and Shell security men over recent weeks.

Expert speakers for Shell have – during the first two days of the hearing – included this 500m section of the 9.2km pipeline in submissions for determination.

Responding last night, Micheál Ó Seighin, of the Rossport Five, accused the chairman of not answering a key question he had been asked on a number of occasions over the previous days. The issue already has led to three people – Brendan Philbin, Bríd McGarry and Ed Moran – withdrawing from the hearing.

“The chairman has ignored my question, which is: what is the overlap of jurisdiction between a ministerial consent [Frank Fahey] in 2002 and the present An Bord Pleanála hearing under the Strategic Infrastructure Act?”

Mr Ó Seighin continued: “The fact is that Shell is doing work at present that is being considered by An Bord Pleanála.”

In response to other issues raised by local resident Imelda Moran earlier, the chairman also said he would neither compel the Health and Safety Authority nor the Environmental Protection Agency to attend.

However, he said that, if necessary, the hearing could be reopened and the bodies could then be compelled to attend.

An addendum to a presentation on the Glenamoy Bog Complex (special area of conservation) by Eileen McCarthy, an eco-hydrology and eco-hydrogeology consultant, was adjourned until next week so it could be translated into non-technical language.

This article appears in the print edition of the Irish Times

Related Article

Bolivian authorities seek Hungarian man living in Ireland

CONOR LALLY and DAN McLAUGHLIN in Budapest

DAN McLAUGHLIN BOLIVIAN AUTHORITIES investigating an alleged plot to kill political figures there and the related shooting dead by police of Irishman Michael Dwyer want to interview a Hungarian man living in Ireland.

The potentially key witness worked for the same Irish security firm as Mr Dwyer. The company is based in Co Kildare.

The 32-year-old Hungarian of Romanian extraction is believed to have worked for the company until recent weeks. He is still living in the Republic.

The Bolivians believe the man – a former soldier in the Hungarian army – was instrumental in bringing Dwyer to Bolivia from Ireland with a number of other men.

“According to our information, [the Hungarian] was the head and organiser of this group. Not only here but in his own country. He has experience of forming irregular groups,” said Bernardo Montenegro, a member of a Bolivian parliamentary commission investigating the case.

Mr Dwyer travelled with the 32-year-old Hungarian – along with another Hungarian and a Polish man – from Ireland to Bolivia last November.

Mr Dwyer (25) had told his parents in Ballinderry, Co Tipperary, he was going to Bolivia to do a bodyguard course.

The men paid their own fare as far as Madrid. There they collected prepaid tickets to Bolivia. It is unclear who paid for the tickets.

Mr Dwyer decided to travel after he and his former colleagues lost their jobs with the security company when their contracts expired last October.

The Hungarian who went with Mr Dwyer knew Eduardo Rozsa Flores, the 49-year-old shot dead with Mr Dwyer in a Santa Cruz hotel in the early hours of Thursday, April 16th. The Hungarian man introduced Mr Dwyer to Mr Flores.

The Hungarian man and the other two who travelled with Mr Dwyer to Bolivia returned to Ireland early, because the bodyguard course it has been suggested they had gone to take part in fell through.

Mr Dwyer stayed on with Mr Flores, on the pretence of working as a security guard for him. He was later killed with Mr Flores.

The Hungarian now living in Ireland and Mr Flores have both been linked to the Szekler Legion, which wants autonomy for Hungarians in Romania. The Bolivians have said Mr Flores was the leader of a group of mercenaries in Santa Cruz and that he was planning to kill president Evo Morales.

It was during a police operation aimed at foiling that alleged plot that Mr Dwyer and Mr Flores and a third man were shot dead.

This article appears in the print edition of the Irish Times

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