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Call for suspension of gas and oil licences

Protesters call for suspension of gas and oil licences Conor McMorrowA large protest took place in Letterkenny last night against the Irish government granting more gas and oil exploration licences for the Donegal Basin.Sinn Féin representatives in Co Donegal organised the protest in support of the Rossport Five and to lobby Noel Dempsey, the minister for communications, marine and natural resources, to suspend the granting of gas and oil licences in the coastal county.People in Donegal are calling on the Irish government to suspend the current round of applications for frontier exploration licences and to immediately carry out a review of the terms and conditions of all such licences.The area on offer in the current round is in the Donegal, Slyne and Erris basins.It will cover unlicensed blocks in an area of 25,000 square kilometres. The successful applicants will be offered frontier exploration licences, which have a duration of 15 years.Speaking on behalf of the Sinn Féin’s ten elected representatives in Co Donegal, Councillor Pearse Doherty said: “I find it quite remarkable that Minister Dempsey is proceeding with this round of licences, in which highly flawed 1992 licensing terms for offshore oil and gas exploration and development will apply.“The 1992 gas exploration legislation is extremely flawed and represents an extremely bad deal for the Irish people.“The deal gives no royalties to the Dublin government and an extraordinarily low rate of tax, all of which Shell will be able to write off.”The Donegal county councillor for the Glenties area added: “At the time of this legislation, former minster Ray Burke, against the advice of senior officials in his department, held a meeting on his own with the oil companies, after which the terms and conditions previously attached to licences were changed dramatically in favour of the companies.“It would be reckless in the extreme if Minister Dempsey were to issue new licences without first carrying out a major review of the 1992 legislation. “The time has come for this government to start putting the interests of the Irish people before the corporate interests of the oil and gas companies,” said Mr Doherty.Speaking about the Rossport Five, Mr Doherty said: “It is not good enough for the government to wash their hands of the Corrib gas debacle and allow Shell to ride roughshod over the people of Rossport. “It is a disgrace that the Rossport Five are being detained at Cloverhill prison.”He went on: “Serious issues have arisen at every stage in this process, going right back to the original granting of licences and the allocation of the site at Bellanaboy, all of which are shrouded in mystery. “To add to that, we now have the ludicrous situation where one part of a company engaged in a potentially dangerous pipeline development is asked to conduct an ‘independent review’ of the risks involved.”

Posted Date: 
16 July 2005 - 3:00pm