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Delegation in Norway to voice Corrib gas concerns

The Irish Times
Wednesday, April 9, 2008
LORNA SIGGINS, Marine Correspondent
Labour Party president Michael D. Higgins: visiting NorwayPhotograph: The Irish Times
LABOUR PARTY president Michael D. Higgins and two councillors from the Green Party and Sinn Féin are flying to Norway today to highlights concerns about the Corrib gas project.
The three politicians, including Green Party councillor Niall Ó Brolcháin (Galway) and Sinn Féin councillor Noel Campbell (Mayo), are travelling to Oslo with a community delegation from the Kilcommon parish of Erris.
They will be welcomed by Terje Nustad, head of the leading Norwegian oil workers' union federation, SAFE, who has already visited Mayo. Members of the community delegation include Rossport Five representatives Willie Corduff - who won last year's Goldman Environmental Prize - and Vincent McGrath.
Also travelling is Caitlín Uí Seighin, wife of Micheál Ó Seighin, who previously visited Norway while her husband was in jail in 2005 for opposing the Corrib gas scheme.
Mr Nustad's organisation represents more than 7,000 workers in the Norwegian energy industry and is highly influential. Eighteen months ago, during a visit to Ireland, he called on the Government to establish an independent commission into the best development model for the Corrib gas field, which is located off the north Mayo coastline.
The commission had been proposed by former Mayo TD Dr Jerry Cowley and former Shell to Sea spokesman Dr Mark Garavan.
Mr Nustad also questioned the role of Norwegian oil company Statoil in a situation which he believed to be in breach of its ethical values. Statoil is a partner with Shell E&P Ireland and Marathon in the controversial project.
The group will spend three days in Norway and is seeking discussions with Statoil. It has arranged to meet representatives of the Norwegian Centre Party, part of the government coalition, and it will also present its case to a number of non-governmental organisations.
The Norwegian Centre Party is due to send a delegation to Ireland next week as part of a fact-finding mission on a series of issues, ranging from the Lisbon Treaty to the Corrib gas project.
In a statement yesterday, the group said that the Corrib gas conflict "urgently needs resolution"
"The community delegation hopes that Norwegian political and civic society representatives will play their part in ensuring that Statoil develops a Corrib gas project that has the support and consent of the people of the Erris community," it said.
Three priests in the Kilcommon parish, who have written to Minister for Energy Eamon Ryan twice to highlight their concerns about the project, have supported the visit to Norway. They have issued a letter which the delegation is presenting to Norwegian political and environmental representatives.
© 2008 The Irish Times

Posted Date: 
10 April 2008 - 2:14pm