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Mistakes made in Corrib saga – Kenny

By: 
Áine Ryan - Mayo News

Fine Gael leader believes ‘rights of people were trampled on and moved aside’

FINE GAEL leader, Enda Kenny, has told a conference of business leaders that ‘mistakes were made in Mayo’ over the controversial Corrib gas project.
In an unprecedented admission by a senior politician, Deputy Kenny – who has been largely mute about the protracted debacle in recent times – told delegates to the conference in Cork last Friday that: “Mistakes were made in Mayo. People’s rights were trampled on. Their rights were moved aside.”
He was responding to a question from the floor about foreign inward investment during which he addressed the huge potential of the renewable energy industry, the development of its infrastructure and the maximising of returns.
Speaking to The Mayo News yesterday, Deputy Kenny confirmed he had made the comments but insisted he was ‘referring to the early years of the project when it was being developed by Enterprise Energy Ireland’. Shell subsequently bought the field in 2002 for a reported €7 billion.  
“My view was clear from the beginning. I always said the Corrib field should be harvested, with due regard to the highest standards of safety and the environment,” Enda Kenny said. 
“I respect An Bord Pleanála’s (ABP) recent decision. It is an independent and competent body that is removed from any influence. They have made their decision and now Shell has to respond to that,” he continued.
Deputy Kenny was referring to the board’s recent dramatic decision, which stated that almost half the new route was ‘unacceptable’ on safety grounds and suggested the developer explore the feasibility of another route, up the Sruwaddacon estuary.  
 “Six years ago I did say put the pipe up the bay (Sruwaddacon),” Kenny added.
“I have always said that people had the right to peaceful protest but they also did not have a right to obstruct workers going to their place of employment,” he also said.
When asked by The Mayo News did he believe the communities of north Mayo who opposed the project as it was configured were now ‘vindicated’, Deputy Kenny observed: “This is not about the vindication of any side. It is about getting the balance right.”
He also spoke about the fact that the waters off north Mayo – near Belmullet – have been chosen as the test site for an innovative wave power project that could ultimately lead to Ireland becoming a world leader in its commercial harnessing 
He said he believed The Marine Institute should be the body driving this initiative.
“This has enormous potential, as has the whole wind energy industry for the entire north west of the country,” he concluded.
When contacted by The Mayo News last night, Vincent McGrath (pictured), of the Rossport Five, said  ‘any acknowledgment of the hurt to the community’ incurred by this project was ‘absolutely welcomed by Pobal Chill Chomáin’.
“We are actively looking for a solution to allow this remote community return to life as it was before this conflict developed,” Vincent McGrath said.
“Following ABP’s decision in 2003 to refuse planning permission for the refinery site, the developer was given a real opportunity to look at alternative sites. Now, this recent decision offers everybody a fresh opportunity to go back to the drawing board and work together towards a solution,” he continued.
“A solution is best achieved by looking forward in a positive manner and by avoiding recrimination,” Vincent McGrath added.