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Public Opinion and Corrib Gas

Public Opinion and Corrib Gas
mayo | environment | opinion/analysis Monday October 29, 2007 02:03 by JM Rossport
How poll questions are framed, and what does it all mean?
The latest Irish Times online Head2Head poll concerned itself with the Corrib gas controversy in North Mayo, and asked the following question:Is Shell's Corrib Gas project good for the local community?The result came in as a resounding NO, with 84% believing the project as proposed is bad for the local community, with less than 1 in 6 agreeing it was good for the area.
result of the Irish Times Head2Head poll on the Corrib Gas project
To most people from the area (including those promoting the project) the result should not come as a great surprise. Shell's involvement in the Erris region has caused nothing but strife and conflict for the last few years, and their continued stance on the proposed Bellanaboy refinery is not getting us any nearer to a solution.Local resistance has grown dramatically since the jailing of the Rossport Five (when the issue got national and international attention) and with protests at Bellanaboy every working day since July 2005 there is no sign of the elusive concept of "community consent" materialising anytime soon.However, that is exactly what Shell are claiming. The myth of an adoring populace dogged by a few rag-tag diehards is exactly that... a myth. Shell's fantasy of popular support for their chosen design concept is as far removed from reality as you can get, and the Times' poll is only the most recent confirmation of this.There is a well-known phrase about "lies, damn lies, and statistics" and the arguments surrounding this project are a perfect example of statistical manipulation and outright lies.
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by JM Mon Oct 29, 2007 02:27 Rossport
These are the results of five scientifically conducted polls on the Corrib saga. Many questions were asked in different ways, but the ones shown here all relate to the specific design concept... an inland refinery and high pressure onshore pipeline. This is the fundamental issue of the controversy; where should the gas be processed?The results are fairly consistent, with a two-thirds to three-quarters majority opposed to the Bellanaboy option.When it comes to interpreting the results in more depth, it is clear that the vast majority of respondents support development of the Corrib field in principle, and this is spun by Shell as support for Bellanaboy. Contradicting this, however, is Shell's assertion that those opposed to a refinery at Bellanaboy are in fact opposed to all forms of "progress".The fact is, Shell To Sea is a pro-development stance, but one that demands sustainability for health, safety and the environment to take precedence over private financial gain for unaccountable corporations.
May 2006 - Irish Times
September 2006 - Nuacht TG4
October 2006 - Mayo Advertiser
November 2006 - RTE Primetime
March 2007 - Western People

loaded questions
by JM Mon Oct 29, 2007 02:50 Rossport
Shell commissioned their own poll that was made public (in part) in October 2006, and among the questions was one about Bellanaboy:"If the gas cannot be processed out at sea, which one of the following options would you prefer? That the gas be brought to the terminal in Bellanaboy via a pipelineOrDo nothing, leave the Corrib Gas Field as it is."Because of the pro-development stance already demonstrated, it was quite likely that the response would be grudgingly positive, and Shell got the answer they needed. 65% for, 35% against.The question was akin to asking the following:"If the only thing availble to eat is cabbage, even if you hate the stuff, which would you prefer?Eat cabbage for breakfast, dinner and teaOrStarve to death."The fact that the question was extremely narrow in the way people could respond gave a pre-determined outcome. They also had the double safety net of ignoring people who responded negatively (as reported in Village magazine at the time) and not having to make the results known at all if they were unfavourable.This would all be hilarious if the consequences were not so serious. The lie of community support for the experimental Corrib gas project has led to a prolonged dispute becoming ever more dangerous, with Shell and their partners allowing proper debate and reasoned argument to be replaced with physical abuse and intimidation of a community. Governement mediator Peter Cassells has a lot to answer for.
Shell's own poll - October 2006
poll trends

Bellanaboy - for and against
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Posted Date: 
29 October 2007 - 1:23pm