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Kerry public meeting - Report

Shell to Sea, Tralee Public Meeting.

Last Thursday, August 11th., a well attended public meeting was held in Tralee in solidarity with the Mayo based Shell to Sea campaign which is opposing the processing of gas in the county and calling for the release of the Rossport Five, Micheal O'Sheighin, Willie Corduff, Phillip McGrath, Vincent McGrath and Brendan Philbin, who were sent to prison recently for their part in a peacefull protest. The Kerry speakers at the meeting were from the local branches of Sinn Fein, the Green Party and the Socialist Workers Party as well as a representitive of the Shell to Sea campaign in Mayo.
Martin Ferris T.D. of Sinn Fein was due to speak but was unfortunately unable to attend, instead Connor Foley gave a brief outline of the party's position. He stressed that neither of the government partys nor Fine Gael or Labour had seriously supported the residents of Mayo. He condemned the multinationals involved, Shell and Statiol, and said that the Irish people were recieving no financial return from this project, money that could be spent on improving our public services. In conclusion he stated that the Rossport Five should be immediately released from prison.Fergal Buckley of the Green Party spoke next and questioned the long term invironmentle impact of allowing the project to proceed. He asked while the price of oil is skyrocketing, why are we giving away this gas for free? We have almost certainly the lowest corporation tax in Europe which can be written off against capital costs. The gas will be the same cost to us as if we were importing it from Russia. The opperation should be open to public scrutiny and the court injunction against the Rossport Five should be lifted.
Sean Moraghan of the Socialist Workers Party also stressed the significant invironmentle and health and safty risks at stake. For objecting to these risks five ordinary men had been jailed at the hands of big corporations. You would think in this day and age that the Irish public would at least have the right to own the country's natural resources. Due to reforms since 1992 Ireland's resources have been systematically taken away from the Irish people and virtually given to the multinationals. It is an outrage that Shell are using Conpulsary Purchase Orders to obtain the land for the pipeline. In Bolivia, in South America, the same process is happening. The Bolivian people this Summer have organised mass blockades and protests to force the politicians to renationalise their gas.
The last speaker was Mark Garavan who is a key spokesperson for the Shell to Sea campaign in Mayo. He argued that the Corrib Gas issue ''truely has the potential to rock the state to its foundations''. It is a question of democratic accountability. It took the imprisonment of five men to lift the lid off the situation. Andy Pile, head of Shell in Ireland, wanted all the land owners imprisoned but was advised by public relations experts to just set an example of the five. The men are in prison indefinately because they refuse to purge their contempt and Shell wont lift their injunction. The men have refused to say they will not continue their protests once released. Mr. Garavan stated that the day the men went to prison ''was the most harrowing day I have witnessed and I worked for the Simmon Community''. What is happening is a ''peoples revolution in Mayo''. Since the days of Michael Davitt and the Land League, land is imbedded into the historical memory of the Mayo people. He ended by saying that in reguard to health and safty, that no where in the world would you have such high levels of gas passing so near to peoples homes, as close as 70 metres! It is like ''a bomb in the community'' and the only reward that can be expected locally is 35 temporary jobs. The Department of the Marine is not neutral in this but has taken sides with Shell and Statoil.
A short discussion with the audience then followed upon which it was decided that we in Kerry would formally set up a Shell to Sea support group to meet regularly and also initiate civil protests around the county.

Kieran McNulty, (Shell to Sea, Kerry Support Group, 0876716009)

Posted Date: 
16 August 2005 - 4:57pm