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Rights group criticises Shell and Garda over traffic blockage

The Irish Times – Tuesday, August 7, 2012


HUMAN RIGHTS group Action from Ireland (Afri) has criticised both the Garda Síochána and Shell over “the bungled transport” of a huge tunnelling machine.

As reported widely, a 170-tonne lorry transporting the Shell machine to bore the sub-sea tunnel linking raw gas to an inland refinery, jack-knifed at a narrow crossroad in Glenamoy, Co Mayo, last Tuesday morning.

The lorry cut off local traffic for a time, including people travelling to Castlebar for hospital appointments. Mayo County Council and Shell workers finally removed the lorry on Friday afternoon, after it widened the roadway. This operation, which involved a convoy of lorries transporting materials for the remedial works, was facilitated by more than 100 gardaí in the early hours of Friday morning.

Afri co-ordinator Joe Murray said the latest incident in the Corrib project “represents a continuation of the long established trend whereby the health and safety of local residents has been jeopardised to boost the profits of a multinational corporation”.

“If Shell are not to be trusted to carry a piece of equipment by lorry then how can they be trusted to transport raw, flammable gas by pipeline under an estuary and past people’s homes?” Mr Murray asked.

Afri called for an immediate suspension of work on the project pending a thorough review of human rights, health and safety, and environmental issues.

Mr Murray criticised in particular the arrest of local farmer Willie Corduff for his protest at the ensuing disruption at the crossroads, which accesses several communities and is on a tourism route.

“Instead of charging Shell with reckless endangerment, the gardaí chose to arrest a man doing nothing more than peacefully safeguarding the welfare of his family and friends,” Mr Murray said.

Last week, Sinn Féin county councillor Rose Conway-Walsh said “the health and safety of a whole community was put at risk by the blocking of the junction”.

“The lack of consultation about the transporting by road of this exceptional heavy convoy is appalling. I can categorically state that neither Shell nor Mayo Council consulted me as a local councillor about the transporting of this tunnel-boring machine,” Cllr Conway-Walsh said.

“Had I been consulted the first question I would have asked is has the carrying capacity of the route been assessed by Mayo County Council and what health and safety plan has been put in place.”

A council spokesman said special permits were issued for the “abnormal load” some weeks ago.


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