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Inquiry into fires near Corrib gas terminal

By: 
Lorna Siggins - Irish Times

GARDAÍ IN Mayo are investigating a series of forest fires close to the Corrib gas terminal at Ballinaboy, as fire services and Coillte fought to extinguish a new blaze yesterday.

Gardaí also said extra resources had been deployed to north Mayo this weekend, in the event of protests at a GAA national Gaeltacht tournament sponsored by Shell EP Ireland.

The latest fire broke out late on Thursday night in the Coillte-owned Glenamoy forest, part of which was sold a decade ago to the Corrib gas project for an onshore gas terminal. A Coillte helicopter, Coillte staff and Belmullet fire brigade were fighting the fire throughout yesterday.

“There is more smoke than actual blaze as the fire has gone deep into the dry bog, and we are doing our best to try and contain it,” Coillte’s west regional manager Tony Clarke said.

Belmullet fire brigade,which is a part-time retained service, dealt earlier with fires at Bunahowne and at Bellagelly, in Coillte-owned forestry on the original onshore pipeline route.

Gardaí say they will monitor the Comórtas Peile na Gaeltachta hosted by Belmullet GAA this weekend, and sponsored by Shell and Údarás na Gaeltachta. It has been renamed “Shell-Peil” by residents who say that the sponsorship deal has caused “hurt” in the area, due to the controversy over the gas project.

Kilcommon parish community group Pobal Chill Chomáin has written to all 32 county GAA boards and 24 GAA clubs to outline the impact of the sponsorship, and to inform potential participants of issues relating to Corrib gas which affect the community.

Shell has granted €10,000 to the tournament, while Údarás na Gaeltachta has granted €14,000.

Last year, Shell and its Corrib gas partners gave €450,000 to Belmullet GAA club as part of a €1.8 million development. Pobal Chill Chomáin chairman Vincent McGrath said his group was not asking players to stay away from the tournament which is an important event for the area.

However, the community group has sent the county board and clubs information, including copies of the recent FrontLine human rights report on Corrib.

Seán Ó Gallchóir, chairman of Belmullet GAA club, said the finals were “the biggest ever since the competition was started in 1969.

“The Corrib gas partners have been a major contributor to this club, and I don’t believe it has caused any upset within our club and in our area of Belmullet.”