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Landslide group on the rocks

The Connaught Telegraph Wednesday, March 26, 2008Exclusive By Frances Toner ftoner@con-telegraph.ie THE Dooncarton Landslide Committee, set up in the aftermath of the devastating 2003 north Mayo landslide, is set to be dissolved amidst a storm of controversy. It has emerged the majority of the committee have resigned over a €10,000 funding allocation from Shell E&P Ireland under its local grants scheme to erect safety barriers along a dangerous stretch of road overlooking the cliffs of Broadhaven Bay between the villages of Glengad and Seanbhaile. Chairman of the group, Mr. Gerard McDonnell, told The Connaught Telegraph that he applied for the funding without committee consent and this has caused a furore, leading to the resignation of five of the group's seven members. However, joint treasurer, Mr. Gerry Sheeran, said the committee was in fact dissolved entirely at an emergency meeting, not attended by the chairman, on Friday. The voluntary committee has been toiling tirelessly for almost five years to rebuild the local cemetery that was swept away on September 19, 2003, when a sudden downpour of rain caused 200,000 cubic metres of debris to hurtle down the Dooncarton mountainside. The disaster swept homes, livestock and five human remains from the local cemetery out to sea. Mr. Sheeran said he is saddened the group has come to such an abrupt and contentious end but said the committee were not consulted ahead of this funding application and he was quite sure they would never have approved such an application had it been put to them. He is now calling on the Corrib Gas Partners to withdraw their funding allocation on that basis. "This application for funding, was not put to the committee because I knew there was no point," said Mr. McDonnell on Monday. "I decided to take the initiative and get the money to erect safety barriers on what is a very dangerous stretch of road, where a young motorist was lucky to escape with his life after his car went off the road there in very recent months. "Unfortunately, some people aren't happy the money is coming from the Corrib Gas Partners. "Of course it is regrettable five people have resigned but it is understandable due to the controversial nature of the Corrib gas pipeline in north Mayo. "Sadly, this kind of controversy is a fact of life for a lot of committees in the parish of Kilcommon." "It's a pity it ended this way," agreed Mr. Sheeran. "But we're not going to be used by Shell, who are manipulating voluntary groups to buy local support. "This idea of funding for local groups only came when their backs were against the wall and we don't want any part of it." Responding to calls from former committee members to withdraw the funding allocation, Mr. Colin Joyce, communications advisor with Shell E&P Ireland, said: "We haven't been made aware of changes in structure of the Dooncarton Landslide Committee. "When we are we will review this funding allocation." Mayo County Council have agreed to match the Corrib Natural Gas Local Grants Programme allocation, amounting to €20,000 in total, to erect 300 metres of safety barrier in 2008 with a further 300 metres to be erected in 2009. "This is a project which will benefit the entire community who use this stretch of road and provide enhanced protection to local residents, walkers and traffic users," explained Mr. McDonnell.
The Connaught Telegraph Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Posted Date: 
28 March 2008 - 5:32pm