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Public meeting sought by residents over pollution threat to Erris lake

Wednesday, September 07, 2005 The Western People, by Cróna EslerAs the Rossport Five face into their 70th day in Clover Hill prison today (Tuesday), the Shell-to-Sea Group are continuing in their battle to make their voices heard and are now calling on the Corrib Project Monitoring Committee (PMC) to visit the Ballinaboy site and present a report of their findings to a public meeting in Glenamoy.Last week, it emerged that the PMC were of the opinion that the ongoing protest at Corrib gas development sites in Erris may be endangering the public water supply. The Shell-to-Sea group have rubbished this claim, arguing that, over the past five years, it is they who have been persistently expressing their own concerns about water pollution.In a letter to the Western People last week, Nicholas Whyte from Carrowmore and Gerard McDonnell from Aughoose remarked that it was a “major concern” that the public water supply and in turn the valuable local Fishery is under significant threat. The two men, who are acting as the local representatives on the PMC appealed to the protestors on behalf of the Committee to allow Shell employees and Mayo Co Council personnel, access to the development sites to carry out essential water purificationThe Project Management Committee was established on the direction of An Bord Plenála following the granting of planning permission to Shell E&P Ireland Ltd (SEPIL) for the development of the Ballinaboy gas terminal. It consists of representatives of all of the relevant statutory bodies as well as Mr Whyte and Mr McDonnell.In a report in last week’s Western People, the two men explained that the gas terminal site contains specially constructed isolation ponds holding water with minute particles in suspension. They say this water cannot be They requested that the PMC be reconvened immediately to consider this threat. The men stated that the relevant purification equipment has already been purchased but remains in storage as Shell staff and Co Council personnel have been refused access to the site by protestors.In a statement yesterday (Monday), the Shell-to-Sea Group expressed their own concerns, commenting that they had called for proper monitoring several weeks ago. Additionally, they stated that from the outset, local people had expressed grave concerns through the planning process with regard to the effects the proposed project will have on the water quality of Carrowmore Lake, the source of drinking water for the Erris region. “It is a matter of grave concern that Shell and Partners have now acknowledged the risk of pollution,” read the statement.Speaking to the Western People, Maura Harrington of the Shell-to-Sea campaign, commented that it was ironic that Shell are now saying what the protestors have been trying to get across to everybody for five years. Continuing, Mrs Harrington pointed out that the PMC are obliged to deal with all issues surrounding the sites and said that Shell-to-Sea will not be happy with the report of just a few members of the Committee. “This is not just down to a couple of the members of the PMC – this is something that each of them are responsible for and they need to visit the site in their entirety. We want all of the Committee members to honour their responsibility and present a report of their findings to a public meeting,” she said. This issue of environmental quality has arisen partly due to the distrust that exists between the two groups but it was for this reason that the PMC were established as an independent body. The Shell-to-Sea campaigners, in their opinion, are now merely asking that the PMC become proactive in their approach and produce a report on the conditions of the site. In a separate development at the weekend, the Taoiseach Bertie Ahern commented that the Rossport Five have now made their point, remarking that it is beyond him why they wish to remain in jail. Speaking in Ennis on Saturday, the Taoiseach stated that unfortunately he had no power to release the men from jail but that the five men have a very easy way of resolving the issue. “They made their point many weeks ago,” he claimed.Mrs Harrington and her fellow campaigners were not impressed with the comments made by the Taoiseach. “Mr Ahern would find it very difficult to understand the situation because these five men are men of principle,” she said. Peaceful protest in SligoA peaceful demonstration in support of the Rossport Five has been organised for Sligo on Saturday next, September 10, at which stage the five men – Willie Corduff, Micheal O Seighin, Vincent McGrath, Brendan Philbin and Philip McGrath – will have spent 74 days in Clover Hill prison. The march will commence at 3.30pm at Market Yard Sligo. Every man, woman and child is urged to come out and support this peaceful protest.

Posted Date: 
7 September 2005 - 9:30pm