Skip to main content

Press Release: Mahon meaningless if corrupt Corrib project continues

-- What was behind Ahern’s and Burke’s oil and gas giveaway legislation? -- 


Shell to Sea today called for the halting of the Corrib Gas project and an investigation to ascertain whether disgraced former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern or other politicians received corrupt payments for their facilitation of the Corrib Gas project and their role in Ireland’s oil and gas giveaway.


The Mahon report stated: “Corruption in Irish political life was both endemic and systemic. It affected every level of government, from some holders of top ministerial offices to some local councillors, and its existence was widely known and widely tolerated”.


Shell to Sea spokesperson Maura Harrington said: "Over the next few days and weeks, it will be heard that this sort of corruption is a thing of the past. Yet here in Mayo, we are living beside a monument to corruption that is still being forced through by the current Government. It is time to call a halt to this shambles of a project and to hold a full investigation." 


She continued: "It has now been found that two of the central politicians involved in the giveaway of our oil and gas resources, Bertie Ahern and Ray Burke, have both received hundreds of thousands of euros in corrupt or unexplained payments. Because of them Ireland has one of the worst oil and gas deals in the world, it is time this was forensically investigated".


Bertie Ahern has directly interfered with the planning process in relation to the Corrib Gas Project. In 2003, planning permission for Bellanaboy refinery was initially turned down by An Bord Pleanala. Minutes marked ‘Most Confidential’ reveal that when Shell group managing directors met to discuss this, rather than review the location of the Bellanaboy refinery, Shell sought to influence politicians and regulators: "The Committee queried whether the Group had sufficiently well placed contacts with the Irish government and regulators.” [1]


In September 2003 the CEO of Shell Europe met with Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, who set up a meeting four days later between representatives from the Corrib Gas Partners and An Bord Pleanála chairman, John O'Connor.  


Shell to Sea spokesperson Terence Conway said: "Everybody accepts that Bertie Ahern accepted corrupt payments for planning decisions worth millions, why do you think he wouldn't accept money from the oil industry, when it’s for gas and oil fields worth billions.


President Michael D Higgins spoke about the Corrib planning processes in 2009: "Agencies of the State got involved on the side of the developer, rather than on the side of the community. Given that alternative models were available in other countries, it was scandalous that we proceeded as we did. It reveals the mindset of certain people. I am reminded of the woman who was sent to jail in New York, who said that taxes are for small people. In this case, it seems that planning is not for big people... I refer again to the notion that some projects are too big for public accountability and transparency in planning. I am not making accusations that I cannot support." [2] 





[1] Shell Corrib Gas Project, Bertie Ahern and Corruption -

[2] Michael D Higgins speaking on the Planning and Development Bill 2009  -



The Shell to Sea Campaign has three main aims:
1) That any exploitation of the Corrib gas field be done in a safe way that will not expose the local community in Erris to unnecessary health, safety and environmental risks.

2) To renegotiate the terms of the Great Oil and Gas Giveaway, which sees Ireland’s 10 billion barrels of oil equivalent* off the West Coast go directly to the oil companies, with the Irish State retaining a 0% share, no energy security of supply and only 25% tax on profits against which all costs can be deducted.

3) To seek justice for the human rights abuses suffered by Shell to Sea campaigners due to their opposition to Shell’s proposed inland refinery.

*This figure is based on the estimate, issued by the Department of Communications, Energy & Natural Resources (DCENR) in 2006, that the amount of recoverable oil and gas in the Rockall and Porcupine basins, off Ireland’s west coast, is 10 BBOE (billion barrels of oil equivalent). Based on the average price of a barrel of oil for 2010 of $79, this works out at $790 billion, or €580 billion. This does not take account of further oil and gas reserves off Ireland’s south & east coasts or inland. The total volume of oil and gas which rightfully belongs to Ireland could be significantly higher. Also, as the global price of oil rises in the coming years, the value of these Irish natural resources will rise further.