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Can we trust Shell?

Wednesday, September 07, 2005 The Western People - Letter to EditorSIR - Everyone agrees that trust is the key to the current stalemate on the Corrib gas project. No difference can be settled without compromise, and settlement is only reached through confidence in opposing sides holding true to their word. In this regard a close look at the Rossport situation is very enlightening.First, Shell/Roadbridge workers and machines marched into Rossport, setting up camp with a monstrous compound in a beautiful landscape. Noise, pollution and traffic disruption arrived in a quiet corner of Erris. The people trusted the authorities, assuming that everything was above board.When Shell operatives started to attempt to enter lands in Rossport, they were asked to produce the proper documents to prove the intended work was both legal and safe. The locals were told that everything was fine, but that no papers were needed, and would not be produced. Ever. If the people of Rossport trusted this stance, the pipeline would be almost built by now.When permission to proceed was refused, an agreement could have been sought by both sides. Rossport wanted to meet with Shell to sort out the grey areas. Shell wanted to build a pipeline. Phone calls were made by Shell to arrange face to face talks ... then they turned up at the fields to start work, before the meetings had even taken place. Entry was refused.Work proceeded on other areas of the pipeline, and the authorities were informed. A septic tank was installed in Rossport, and the authorities were informed. No Traffic Management Plan was in place for Rossport, the authorities were informed. Mayo County Council and Minister Dempsey have trusted Shell all the way.Now forced to be up front about the whole situation, Shell decided to seek the assistance of the Courts. An Order was obtained preventing interference with construction. The Judge trusted Shell. Another attempt was made to enter Rossport and the order was breached. Five men were jailed for asking the right questions.Now the whole country is up in arms, and rightly so. “How did this happen? What can we do? What should be done? How are the families coping? Where on Earth is Rossport?”. A new phrase has entered our vocabularies, “Purge their contempt”. The race is on by the political establishment; everyone wants to take credit for solving the problem, but no one wants to take the blame for letting it happen.It has transpired that Shell did not have consent to construct their pipeline; it’s safety has not yet been proved; their septic tank was unauthorised development; the laws were changed to facilitate the project; the Irish people get nothing, and will pay for the development and the pollution. Shell/Statoil/Marathon own the gas. They run the show.And now the five men, who always believed these things to be true, are again asked to trust Shell. After nearly ten weeks in jail they can still purge their contempt and go home. It’s mighty tempting. But purging their contempt means two things. Apologise to the court, and agree to Shell’s project. One is distasteful, the other impossible.So here we all are, waiting to see what happens. Shell continue their PR campaign, attempting to isolate the Rossport Five from the tremendous support from the people of Ireland. The five men remain resolute; they are keeping their word. Shell are telling the same lies that got us all here in the first place; when it comes to the Corrib Gas Project, nothing has changed. And since Nigeria in 1995, when nine men were taken from their families forever, Shell’s approach remains the same.Trust them ...?John MonaghanRossport SouthBallina, Co. Mayo

Posted Date: 
7 September 2005 - 9:34pm