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Rossport 5 still in Prison: Stand-off Impasse

Rossport 5 still in Prison: Stand-off Impasse: Shell and Dempsey Window Dressing by roisin Thursday, Aug 11 2005, 11:26pmIn a monstrous abuse of the powers of Government and the courts, the Rossport 5 remain in Jail. The five men from Mayo are now in their sixth week in jail, on foot of an injunction the High Court accorded to Shell ordering them not to obstruct Shell’s work on the pipeline across their lands. This work on the pipeline, it has been established, was and is illegal because Shell did not and does not have consents they needed from Minister Dempsey to proceed.
Minister Dempsey has ordered that Shell desist from this illegal work, and demolish the 3 kms. of pipeline already constructed, illegally, in the woods around the Bellinaboy site for their planned recovery station.Twice in the last week Shell has announced, with great fanfare, that they will deconstruct this illegally constructed pipeline. The announcements came in a letter which Shell has allegedly sent the Minister, Noel Dempsey, the contents of which they have refused to publicise.And on Tuesday (August 9th), again for the second time Shell announced that it was postponing work on the site, and laying off 127 people, pending the Review which the Minister has ordered, following the revelation that the previous review was carried out by a company which had close connections with Shell.As Mark Garavan, spokesperson for the Shell to Sea Campaign and for the men who are in prison, pointed out, it is a strange way to proceed with dialogue when those whose objections you need to hear, you have had locked up in order to get them to change their minds, and say sorry, or, in the technical jargon, ‘purge their contempt’.Shell has consistently refused to lift the court injunction, despite its illegal basis, which would enable the release of the five Mayo men. Th prisoners have said that they have not changed their views on Shell’s plans, and thy are not prepred to give an undertaking not to oppose those plans.Terms of the ReviewOn Monday (August 9th) the Minister published details of the scope of the review of the onshore pipeline. The terms of the tender to carry out this review are to deal with the health and safety aspects of the high-pressure onshore pipeline. They state the Minister 'reserves the right to require that such additional work be undertaken and information provided as part of the report as the Minister considers necessary, for the purpose of assuring the comprehensiveness, quality and appropriateness of the final report.' It is also included in the terms of reference that the authors may be required to make a public presentation of the findings. The Minister has given whichever of the eight companies which have applied for the job, 2 weeks to complete a draft and a further week to complete a final report. The terms are to identify the ‘deficiencies’ in the proposed installations. Mark Garavan points out, 'this assumes that the pipeline is a ‘given’ and this misses the point.''We have always said that we have no problem with the design, but it is the location and the consequences of something going wrong that are at issue,' Mark points out.Miceal O’Seighin said in his original statement to the High Court, on the day when Judge Finnegan ordered their imprisonment, the five men do not have a problem with the design of the pipeline. It is clear that technically it is the best it can be given current state of technology. No one designs a pipeline to burst.. The problem is that it should not be there at all because the very concept of the pipeline transporting the uncleaned gas, under unprecedented pressures, so close to their lands and houses, represents an unacceptable hazard to local people.Miceal O’Seighin’s statement'We do not question the design of this or any pipeline. We do not doubt the skill or bona fides of the designers or of the engineers who install or the technicians who fabricate the pipeline. Every pipeline is designed to function properly and not to fail, but perfection is a quality of the Divinity nor of pipelines.''We believe that no pipeline is designed to fail, to rupture or to leak, and therefore look askance at the implication inherent in the suggestion that this planned pipe is more safe than any other, which I take is to impugn the uberissima fides of the fabricators of other pipelines.'For example the designers of the Shell operated pipe near Brussels that burst, engulfing a wide area and killing 21 people on July 30th last year, 2004. Or the fabricators of the pipeline in Carlsbad, New Mexico, that blew up in 2,000 killing by incineration a family of 12 picnicking in the desert: in that instance they were killed 675 feet from the rupture of a 45 BAR pipeline. ''Or the dozens of other publicly recorded pipeline failures, some fatal, some merely destructive. We do not believe that negligence on such a necessarily wide scale exists in this truly global industry. Rather, we know that pipelines fracture or leak. - see the selection enclosed: no one is or should be jailed or executed for it: but it happens.'Serious Review?These objections have been made repeatedly. It has to be asked whether the Minister is serious about the review at all, or whether it is just playing for time, during his summer holidays, to imply that the Minster is doing something to take account of the widespread discontent across Ireland which the project and the imprisonment of 5 people has provoked.'It is nothing but an unseemly whitewash to cover Shell’s determination to proceed. with the project, and the government’s collusion in this, as they have planned.', comments one campaigner. He went on to point out that Shell has no intentions of changing their plan for the exploitation of the Corrib Gas. 'Not only are the terms of the contract uniquely favourable to the consortium, but this particular gas field is only a flag ship project, which will allow Shell to exploit the other fields in the basin, using the offshore platform as the hub to which they can then pipe gas from other fields.' 'in the longer run, Shell is unable, on this plan, to keep the pressures in the raw gas pipeline down to the lower levels they claim. Shells declarations that actually the pressure in the pipeline will be well below its ‘capacity’ of 345 bar, is only so much make=believe. It is bad faith, and faith in Shell is a scarce commodity.'Widespread ProtestsMeanwhile there have been protests again all around the country, at Shell and Statoil stations, and in towns where signatures to the petition to implement the demands of the Shell to Sea have been gathered, and support for the mass demonstration planned for October 1st in Dublin have been gathered.Last week, families of the 5 imprisoned men and supporters, occupied the Mayo County Council offices in Castlebar, and Enda Kenny’s local constituency offices. This followed the refusal by the Chair of the Council, Henry Kenny, brother of Enda Kenny, to call an emergency council meeting. It was the chair of the council, Henry, who was responsible for the ridiculous contortions of the Council at their previous meeting, where the chair announced that the resolution passed by the full council had been out of order on an entirely fabricated procedural ground.This week end Shell to Sea campaigners gather in Galway, where opinion against Shell’s plans is growing in strength, and the implications for economic development of the Western seaboard with their refusal to process the gas at an off shore rig, are becoming clear. 'Shell’s plans affect not only the people of Ireland, whose interests have been sold out, but they affect the livelihoods and future of the whole of the west in terms of the economic benefit which would accrue from an offshore processing rig, but which will be lost to Scotland if Shell gets its way,' said S.F. councillor, Gerry Murray. 'Shell has to be stopped, and as the campaigners say, ‘Sent to Sea’.'The legal costs of the Shell to Sea campaign for the 5 men in jail are huge. Send donatioms to:> Bank Account details: ULSTER BANK> Sort Code 985314> Account No 23987020> Bank ID ULSBIE2D> Intl. Bank Account Number (IBAN):IE74 ULSB 9853 1423> 9870 20

Posted Date: 
21 August 2006 - 1:08am