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Cassells meets Shell and Mayo protesters to seek mediation

Shell mediator Peter Cassells held his first informal meetings with Shell management and action group Shell to Sea last week, The Sunday Business Post has learned.Former trade union boss Cassells was appointed a fortnight ago by the Minister for Energy, Noel Dempsey, to mediate in the long-running dispute between Shell and locals over the company's €900 million plan to refined gas from the Corrib field onshore in Co Mayo.Cassells travelled to Mayo last Tuesday evening to meet Shell management and the five local men who spent 90 days in prison for refusing to undertake not to obstruct the Shell pipeline.

“He met the men, he drove around the area, he took a look at the Shell worksites, and he met a lot of the local people informally by turning up at the various protest centres,” said one local.However, both Shell and Shell to Sea stressed that no formal meetings had yet taken place, and that none of the key issues in the dispute or the terms of reference for the mediation process were addressed during last week's meetings.Cassells also did not indicate when formal mediation efforts would begin.Sources in Mayo said that Shell and the protesters remained “diametrically opposed'‘.Shell has repeated publicly that it is not planning to change its strategy to refine the gas, while Shell to Sea has said that it would not allow Shell to process gas onshore because the company's plan was not safe.The terms of reference for the mediation could also prove a sticking point.“Even the use of the word ‘mediator' and the term ‘mediation' is at this stage a misnomer,” said Maura Harrington, spokeswoman for Shell to Sea.“The meaning of mediation is that following a substantial amount of groundwork, both sides enter into process which is binding.“But there is no question of this being binding.”

Posted Date: 
11 November 2005 - 12:43pm