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County council to call for renegotiation of Corrib gas deal

The Mayo Advertiser
by Fiona McGarry
Mayo County Council is to call on the government to renegotiate all deals regarding Ireland’s natural resources, including the Corrib gas field.
The decision was made unanimously at this week’s meeting of Mayo County Council, on foot of a motion from Sinn Féin Councillor Gerry Murray. While there was mass support for reviewing what Fine Gael Cllr Seamus Weir described as “a horrible deal”, a number of councillors warned against making a political football of the Corrib gas issue.
Outlining his motion, Cllr Murray said that “the most banana of republics” had done better deals with regard to their natural resources. Instead of funding Mayo’s infrastructure and vital services, the SF councillor said, the billions of euro generated by the gas field would go to fund health care and education in Norway. He said that while the resource had been “signed away for nothing”, the government could follow the example of other countries who were now claiming back up to half of what they had given to oil and gas companies. In response to what Cllr Murray described as “a very reasonable request”, Labour Cllr Johnny Mee seconded the motion and noted that Labour minister Justin Keating had attempted to secure a better deal for the people of Ireland. He said he had nothing against Shell, but wanted the “best possible outcome” for the people of Rossport, many of whom had travelled to Castlebar for the fifth month in a row to watch the meeting from the public gallery.
FG Cllr Eddie Staunton said his party would never have allowed Irish resources to be signed away, but refused to be drawn when Cllr Murray repeatedly questioned whether Enda Kenny would renegotiate the gas deal. FG Cllr Michelle Mulherin said that she supported the motion, and that nobody was happy at the “sell-out” that had happened. “Our natural resources should be working for us, nobody would argue to the contrary,” she said. She added that the gas row had caused devastating divisions, but said it was “morally reprehensible” of some politicians to “throw oil on the fire”. The Fine Gael Whip Cllr Paddy McGuinness said it would be “churlish and foolish” to oppose the motion. He said the deal done was “a disgrace”, and had created “a very unfortunate issue”.
Members of the Shell to Sea campaign sitting in the public gallery gave a round of applause to the contribution of FG Cllr Seamus Weir. He said the deal done on the gas field was “a national disgrace”, and that Shell would have “bulldozed through everybody” if they had been allowed. Leas Cathaoirleach FG Cllr Patsy O’Brien added his support to the motion, and said he wished to acknowledge those who had travelled to the meeting from north Mayo. He said that there were three major achievements of the campaign group; including the re-routing of the pipeline; the employment of local people by Shell and the decision to connect 11 Mayo and Galway towns to the national gas grid.
Fianna Fáil Cllr Jimmy Maloney, who was the only member of his party in the chamber at the time of the discussion, noted that Fine Gael had had their time in power and a chance to renegotiate the gas deal.
Cllr Murray thanked his fellow councillors for their support. He said he would now keep pressure on the parties to renegotiate the gas deal. He said his proposal was “not radical, not revolutionary and not pie in the sky”.

Posted Date: 
15 March 2007 - 9:29pm