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Shell rejects talks invite from rights organisation

The Irish Times – Monday, October 18, 2010

LORNA SIGGINS Western Correspondent

SHELL EP Ireland and its security contractors for the Corrib gas project have confirmed that they declined an invitation to meet an Amnesty International/Front Line human rights delegation in north Mayo last week.

However, the Garda agreed to meet the delegation to discuss possible monitoring of future Corrib gas protests. Chief Supt Tom Curley, head of the Mayo Garda division, confirmed that the two organisations had been in contact.

Amnesty International spokesman Justin Moran said the remit of the two organisations related to the protection of human rights, following a recommendation made by Front Line in a report earlier this year.

The two organisations had “no position” on the Corrib gas project itself, he stressed, and would not make a final decision on assigning a monitoring team to north Mayo before An Bord Pleanála ruled on the new application for the final section of pipeline.

Shell EP Ireland Ltd said that it believed that “although governments have the primary responsibility for protecting human rights”, it had “a responsibility to respect human rights and to conduct business as a responsible corporate member of society”.

However, it believed the issues raised by both Amnesty and Front Line should be discussed more appropriately through the Government’s North West Mayo Community Forum. The forum was established two years ago by Energy Minister Eamon Ryan and former Gaeltacht minister Éamon Ó Cuív in a bid to address issues arising from the Corrib gas dispute. A number of groups opposed to the project on health and safety grounds have not participated, due to its terms of reference.

Shell said it would be available for “further discussions, should that be warranted”, following presentation of the proposal by Amnesty and Front Line to the Government’s forum.

The private security company I-RMS which is employing 170 people to provide security on the Corrib gas project said it could not meet the delegation as it was “gravely disappointed with serious misrepresentations contained in the Front Line report [on the Corrib gas dispute] as published in April 2010”.

I-RMS has also confirmed that retired Garda Supt Pat Doyle was appointed to its management team for Corrib security in July. However, it said that Mr Doyle, was not hired until 14 months after he left the Garda.

In a separate development, a group of north Mayo primary school parents have expressed concern they were not informed of Shell sponsorship of water safety classes for their children. One of the five local schools involved in the programme, Pullathomas National School, also told The Irish Times it was “not aware” that Shell was a sponsor until contacted by parents over publicity last week.

Its board of management took a decision some months ago not to apply for funding offered by Shell and its Corrib gas partners. The school made a submission on the new pipeline route to An Bord Pleanála, as it overlooks the proposed location through Sruwaddacon estuary. Shell said it had been funding the Mayo Water Safety Area Committee for three years and had received “no complaints”

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