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Ryan talks to residents about gas pipeline row

Lorna Siggins, Marine Correspondent

Minister for Energy Éamon Ryan has held informal talks in north Mayo over the past two days with residents involved in the Corrib gas pipeline dispute.
Mr Ryan's visit to the area is the first by an energy or marine minister in connection with the dispute since the controversial consents for the onshore pipeline route were signed by former marine minister Frank Fahey.
This took place before the 2002 general election.
The Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources told The Irish Times yesterday that no formal talks took place and "the Minister went down to listen".
It is understood that the discussions took place on an individual basis with landowners on the original pipeline route, and with members of the Rossport Five who were jailed for 94 days in 2005.
Mr Ryan also asked to talk to members of the Shell to Sea campaign and to residents living in the area who are not directly involved.
The Green Party Minister caused some upset among the project's opponents over a week ago when he said that the Government could not commit to a proposed review of the entire Corrib gas project. This was a reversal of his party's decision at its annual conference this year.
The motion, passed unanimously in February, stated that "the Green Party in government will not approve of a production pipeline consent being signed as part of the Corrib gas project until the completion of a full independent review of the best development concept for the project".
Shell to Sea spokesman in north Mayo John Monaghan said he had not met Mr Ryan yesterday as his group was still seeking formal discussions. "We don't want to get into a situation that occurred with Government mediator Peter Cassells, where any dialogue is not open and transparent," Mr Monaghan said.
"At the same time we have to welcome the fact that he is making the effort to visit the area," Mr Monaghan said. "We only wish his predecessor Noel Dempsey had done so, but he wouldn't visit and wouldn't meet us." Mr Monaghan said that Mr Ryan had indicated his willingness to have formal talks, but had said he could not meet the campaigners formally at this point.
Mr Ryan highlighted residents' concerns over the onshore pipeline as his party's former energy and marine spokesman. He was also a founder member of the Campaign for Protection of Resources (CPR) which was formed to lobby for a review of the State's oil and gas licensing terms in Irish waters.
Earlier this month, Mr Ryan announced revised licensing terms for oil and gas companies involved in exploration, which include a profit resource tax on all new licences. The terms do not apply to existing licences, including the Corrib gas project.
© 2007 The Irish Times

Posted Date: 
12 August 2007 - 11:53pm