Skip to main content

Shell refuses to shift

Shell refuses to shift

Conor McMorrrow, Daily Ireland

Shell has flatly refused to lift an injunction under which five Mayo men have been jailed for opposing a gas pipeline through their lands.The men, known as the Rossport Five, called yesterday for the injunction to be lifted in order to facilitate dialogue between the company and the objectors to the pipeline.In a statement last night Shell E&P Ireland said: “The continued imprisonment of the five men is a matter between them and the High Court whose order the men breached. “Shell cannot interfere with that process. If the men wish to participate in further dialogue outside of prison the matter is entirely in their hands should they choose to purge their contempt.”The five were jailed for contempt of court seven weeks ago after refusing to obey the injunction ordering them not to interfere with work on the Corrib gas pipeline due to be laid on their land.Their call for dialogue came in an open letter from prison, released yesterday through the Shell to Sea group which is campaigning for their release. The letter states: “We are currently in prison for refusing to allow Shell and their Irish government partners to build a pipeline close to our family homes. Our crime was to refuse access to our lands. We have refused access because of the certainty that if this pipeline as currently proposed ruptures we, our families and neighbours, will die.”Micheál Ó Seighin, Willie Corduff, Brendan Philbin, and brothers Vincent and Philip McGrath said in the letter they wanted to accept the oil giant Shell’s offer of talks on the issue and called on the company to lift the injunction so they can leave prison and attend those talks.“We wish to immediately accept Shell’s offer of dialogue and enter into talks to resolve the impasse,” the letter stated. “To that end we ask Shell and their government partners to immediately stand down their injunction at this time so that we can leave prison to attend these talks.”Dr Mark Garavan, a spokesman for the men and the Shell to Sea campaign, said: “At the moment Shell are adopting a very fundamentalist position, that if their project has to be changed they will leave the country.“While they are purporting to be interested in dialogue and consultation, they are not setting a context within which any such dialogue can meaningfully occur.“By contrast, the men have always been willing and happy to dialogue with anyone, but you can’t dialogue with anyone when you’re in prison. As Mary Corduff, wife of Willie said last week, ‘you cannot dialogue with anyone through a perspex screen’.“Once again we are being reasonable and Shell are being extreme.”Shell E&P Ireland last night rejected the call for them to lift the injunction but welcomed the public statement of the imprisoned objectors as a significant step towards dialogue. The company said it underlined the urgent need for an open and honest dialogue about the issue of safety on the onshore pipeline and said it noted the commitment of the objectors to enter into that dialogue with Shell once they are out of jail.“We have done everything possible to create the appropriate climate for this to take place. This included voluntarily suspending all works on the onshore and offshore pipelines and the standing down of over 220 workers. It also included rescheduling of some works on the Corrib Project until next year,” the statement said.In the open letter from the men, they thanked those who have supported them in their campaign, including grassroots Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael supporters. But they said they had been “shocked by the abandonment in our time of crisis by the Fine Gael leader and local TD Enda Kenny who we now regard as irrelevant in this crisis as a leader”.They also dismissed the Irish government claim that the building of the gas line was “in the national interest” as “a myth that has been fabricated by the Irish government and their partner Shell”.

Posted Date: 
14 February 2007 - 12:35pm