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Norway is new focus for ‘Shell to Sea’ protest

Representatives of the Shell-to-Sea Campaign are in Norway this week to publicise their concerns about the Corrib gas project.Mayo Independent T.D., Dr Jerry Cowley is one of a five person delegation that flew to Oslo yesterday evening, Monday, September 19.He is accompanied by family members of the Rossport Five including, Micheál O’Seighin’s wife, Caitlín and his son-in-law, John Monaghan, as well as Brendan Philbin’s son, Chris and Rossport resident, Anthony Irwin.Dr Cowley told the Western People that the delegation will be meeting with politicians from various political parties in Norway and one of that countries MEPs. Many of these politicians are spokespeople on oil and gas. The Irish group will also meet several different unions including NOPEF, Norway’s biggest union with responsibility for oil and gas and the national media.Dr Cowley revealed that the group has arranged to meet with the Public Affairs manager and other representatives of the Statoil company.“We have a very good representative group of people to meet. Our mission is to inform the people of Norway of what is happening here in Ireland in relation to the Corrib gas project. We feel that they are not getting a true picture of the situation,” Dr Cowley said.“The Unions play a big part in the Government in Norway and we will be asking them to put pressure on Statoil and the government to get Shell to drop their injunction (which led to the imprisonment of the Rossport Five).”He believes the Norwegian trip will be crucial to the Shell-to-Sea campaign. Dr Cowley explained that the Norwegian Government owns a 71% stake in Statoil. Statoil has a 37% stake in the Corrib gas field. The Norwegian State has a 25% stake in the Corrib gas field.The Rossport 5 this week turned down an offer of mediation from Shell. Shell’s Managing Director, Andy Pyle, said he believed mediation could greatly assist the imprisoned men and the Shell, given the current deadlock. He said feedback from consultation with local stakeholders had shown that direct discussion would be the most appropriate way to resolve the impasse. Shell believes mediation would create conditions in which the five men could be released from prison and the overall dispute could be resolved.Mr Pyle said the company would continue to look for a mechanism to resolve the situation.But Dr Mark Garavan, spokesperson for the Shell-To-Sea support campaign for the Rossport 5, stressed that the men had never rejected negotiations. They simply could not negotiate or engaged in mediation while under duress and behind bars.“We would not expect Minister Dempsey or the MD of Shell to conduct talks under duress from a prison cell. To this end Shell/Statoil and their government partners must collapse their injunction so talks can begin. By continuing these imprisonments Shell are rejecting all talks, negotiations and hopes of any positive involvements with the people of Rossport. The Government must purge its contempt for the people of Rossport by acknowledging their role in providing shell with a Ministerial order that allowed and continues to allow these imprisonments to take place,” he said. Following several weeks of failed attempts, Shell E&P Ireland has confirmed that it has succeeded in carrying out critical but temporary environmental works at the gas terminal site in Bellanaboy. The company maintained that the works were necessary in order to prevent possible pollution. They closed off a number of drains on the site last Tuesday morning, September 13 to prevent untreated water entering local watercoursed during heavy rainfall.Shell Operations Manager, Mark Carrigy, said it was important for everyone to realise that the remedial works were only temporary and that further essential environmental works will be needed in coming weeks.Dr Garavan revealed that Shell-To-Sea is concerned that Shell does not seem to be succeeding in managing water run-off from its excavation programme. The campaign is calling on the Corrib gas Project Monitoring Committee (PMC) to proactively and rigorously monitor all Shell’s construction sites; fully explain the purposes and functions of the water treatment units and whether their installation is in conformity with Shell’s planning permission and is legally permissible and to act as a corporate body and ensures that its members refrain from issuing private statements which extend beyond their remit as members of the environmental monitoring group.Once the campaign is satisfied in relation to these matters it will facilitate the installation of the water treatment filters. Shell-to-Sea has also noted that Shell has so far made no effort to cut up the assembled pipeline in accordance with the directions of the Minister for the Marine. They are further calling on the same Minister to direct that Shell remove pile-driving structures along the pipeline route which is also in breach of their consents.Shell-to-Sea are planning a mass rally in Dublin on Saturday, October 1 next. This national demonstration will consist of a march to Leinster House to demand both the release of the Rossport Five and the relocation of the proposed gas refinery offshore.The campaign is appealing to people to attend and support this event. The march will assemble at the Garden of Rememberance on Parnell Square at 2.30pm on October 1.

Posted Date: 
21 September 2005 - 9:30pm