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RTE complaint, Norwegian support and Mayo people in the pay

RTE faces complaint over Corrib Primetime special

11/29/2006 - 12:04:47 PM

THE Shell to Sea group has lodged a formal complaint with RTE over an allegation that Primetime excluded vital poll data from their special programme last Thursday night.


Dr Mark Garavan, Shell to Sea spokesperson, has strongly disputed the RedC opinion poll jointly carried out by the Irish Independent and RTE’s Primetime, arguing that the results of a crucial question were omitted from the programme.


Shell to Sea claims that a key finding which asked respondents their preferred development model for the Corrib gas project was not published. This question showed that 44 per cent favoured an offshore processing of the gas compared to 29 per cent supported the processing at Bellanaboy. Seventeen per cent wanted the project abandoned. According to Dr Mark Garavan: “Serious matters of impartiality and commitment to public service broadcasting arise for RTE.”

In a letter sent to RTE yesterday morning (Monday), Dr Garavan outlined his dis-satisfaction with the alleged misrepresentation of the poll findings in the Irish Independent and an exclusion of key information by RTE’s Primetime.

The Shell to Sea spokesperson said: “RTE programme makers operate under guidelines which require them to ensure that no joint opinion poll conducted by them with a third party can be used for propaganda purposes.”

“It was apparent from Friday’s distortion of the poll findings in the Irish Independent that the Independent seriously misrepresented the data. This raises a serious issue for RTE and has done damage to RTE’s reputation as an independent, public service broadcaster.”

Referring to the exclusion of data on Primetime he said: “If this critical question was to be excluded did this not undermine the validity and comprehensiveness of the other findings which purported to give a full account of Mayo opinion on the Corrib gas matter?”

In response to an earlier statement by Dr Garavan, RTE denied that it had misrepresented the poll findings. “Unfortunately, one of the questions in that poll had to be dropped because it became apparent to the programme team during the course of research that the wording of the question contained assumptions which were in fact incorrect. The decision to drop the question was taken entirely within the Primetime team and no one outside Primetime had any influence in that decision.”

RTE added that the programme also reminded viewers of a poll conducted by RTE Nuacht last September which showed that most respondents in Mayo would prefer to see the Corrib Gas terminal located at sea.

Meanwhile, Terje Nustad, leader of SAFE, the main confederation of oil and gas industry workers in Norway met with the head of Statoil in Dublin yesterday.

He has committed his union to bringing information regarding Statoil’s involvement in the Corrib gas project to political lead-ers and public opinion in Norway.

Mr Nustad has completed a three-day fact finding visit to North Mayo and addressed Shell to Sea’s national meeting on Saturday and a local community meeting on Sunday. He was accompanied by Mr Helga Ryggvik, a leading Norwegian historian and expert on Statoil.

In his address to the local community Mr Nustad said: “Statoil’s actions in Mayo is against the ethical values that they would apply in Norway.”

Echoing this statement Mr Ryggvik said: “Statoil would not dare to act in this way in Norway.”

And, in another development, Shell E&P Limited has welcomed the response of locals from a series of open meetings held in Belmullet.

The meetings were carried out on Tuesday and Wednesday last in the Broadhaven Bay Hotel to coincide with the application for a Foreshore Licence.

Susan Shannon, External Affairs Advisor, told the Western People that 350 to 400 people attended over the two day series, representing both sides of the debate.

“This was our first open event in three years and we were very pleased with the turnout which exceeded our expectations.”

The Foreshore Licence will facilitate Shell’s under-taking of survey works in the Bay areas around Sruwaddacon and Rossport.

This survey work will consist of seabed hydrographic and geophysical surveys to gain further information on the seabed conditions. These surveys will not take place until a license has been obtained.

Ms Shannon was unable to shed any light on when this licence will be obtained.

“It is up to the Department on how long it takes. We would expect notification in the local media shortly. The licence is merely to carry out survey works.”

As regards advisory appointments made in March, Ms Shannon confirmed that Christy Loftus is still working on a full-time basis as an external advisor, while former Garda Chief Supt John Carey works part-time as a local consultant. She said Padraig Hughes, Former County Secretary,”does not work for Shell, is not employed by Shell and never was”. However, Ms Shannon subsequently claimed that Mr Hughes “does some work from time to time for Shell”.

Posted Date: 
28 November 2006 - 6:49pm