"The government has relinquished control over the offshore areas of our industry. Norway was tough regarding oil companies from the start. You now have an almost embarrassingly large pension fund. The situation for Irish communities, however, is as in Ogoniland in Nigeria - oil is a curse,”
Last Week people travelled a 100 mile round trip from North Mayo to Áras an Chontae in Castlebar, by appointment, to view transport permits for the Corrib gas tunnelling convoy that travelled the country before becoming stuck on the Glenamoy crossroads. Arriving at Mayo County Council they were informed that the permit would not be available until Tuesday (today).
When people with power in Mayo treat citizens, whom they have a duty to serve, in this way, they also do a disservice to their council colleagues who are committed public servants. This treatment is downright bad manners and promotes the power of authority over the power of service. What is to be gained from such treatment? Would a Shell executive or a Garda be treated in the same way? Why were local people treated so?
When the Corrib tunnelling convoy got bogged down in Mayo ‘protestors’ were quickly singled out for blame. Firstly, the word ‘protestors’ is misleading. Many of those so-called ‘protestors’ were local people who were denied the courtesy of being informed that such a load would traverse the roads in their area.
It is as if their ‘áít dúchas’ does not matter to officialdom. Change the word ‘protestors’ to ‘local people’ and one will get a better understanding of what all the Corrib commotion is about. Granted, there are some people, not from the area who turn up to protest to satisfy their own agenda. That does not mean that a general ‘protestor’ label can be used to dismiss the rights of local people and negate the responsibilities of the officers of the state who are involved in North Mayo.
Why was public notice not issued about this convoy crossing the country? Why were local people not informed about its progress?
Recently Erris people had to ‘interrupt’ a county council meeting to get attention over their concerns about noise breaches by Shell during work on the pipeline. They only admitted it when the facts were presented to them. They now say that after consultation with the regulator additional measures have been put in place to avoid a recurrence. Will the regulator take action? The county manager said it was regrettable that ‘exceedances’ had occurred. Not as much as the local people!
Shell has a history of overstepping the mark with the Corrib Gas Project. One can be forgiven for thinking that one dare not question the company when it puts up such a good defence; “we have a permit to weld the pipe; there is no septic tank in the Rossport compound; the noise limits are not being breached” The list goes on.
What action did Mayo County Council take against Shell for breaking the permitted noise levels? That remains to be seen. Ask the local people of North Mayo, who appealed to the council about the noise levels, about the haulage road , about the recent tunnelling convoy debacle. It seems there has been many times that Mayo County council has failed to pay heed to appeals by the people from north Mayo.
Meanwhile, those locals who object to the Corrib Gas project in its present format, continue to suffer, and many feel abandoned by the local authority and, on many occasions, by some of the Gardaí dealing with the Corrib Project.
Willie Corduff from Rossport was arrested last week for ‘protesting’. Was any Shell executive hauled in over breaking noise levels? Was any council official reprimanded for allowing a 170-ton truck to travel over small country roads and disrupt the public to the extent that it did? Will any Garda be questioned over the manner in which aspects of the Corrib Gas project were policed? What do you think?