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Shell shocked executives

Shell Delegation response via Irish Times by reader Friday, Jan 27 2006, 3:17pm
Former Dutch prime minister Wim Kok has said his Royal Dutch Shell delegation ''understands the hurt'' caused last year in north Mayo over the Corrib gas project, and a ''partnership with the local community is the only way forward''.The delegation from Royal Dutch Shell's social responsibility committee has gained a ''deep understanding'' of the ''challenges and issues'' which surround the Corrib gas project, Mr Kok said before the three non-executive directors met Mayo TDs in Dublin yesterday.''It is our intention to bring the clear messages we've heard over the past two days to the highest levels of management in Shell,'' Mr Kok said, referring to a series of private meetings which the committee delegation held in Mayo and Dublin.However, Mayo TD Dr Jerry Cowley (Ind) says that unless the company seeks a safer option for its gas terminal, such sentiments were ''poppycock''. The visit was a ''purely orchestrated cosmetic exercise'' designed to put further pressure on the Government before construction resumed, he said. He had conveyed his views to the delegation in Dublin yesterday, he said.Dr Cowley's constituency colleagues Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny and Independent TD Beverley Flynn described the private meetings as ''useful'', and said the delegation seemed to be willing to listen. Mr Kenny said he had highlighted safety issues and ''serious mistakes'' made in the past by the company, the Government and Mayo County Council, while also discussing energy issues in the broader European context.Ms Flynn said she also referred to safety issues and ''the fact that people in Mayo need to know what is in this project for them'', including a gas supply. ''This whole issue will only be resolved in the context of benefits to the county,'' she said.Fine Gael TD Michael Ring said he told the delegation that ''the proposal as it is now'' to bring gas ashore ''would have to be changed and Shell would have to look at other options.''This gas won't be coming through Rossport, and the sooner the company realises that the better,'' Mr Ring told The Irish Times after his meeting. During the consecutive discussions, a protest was held outside the Dáil by members of the Shell to Sea campaign.Shell E&P Ireland has rejected claims that the committee's visit was a public relations exercise, and says the various discussions were held in private for several reasons relating to stock exchange rules and the company's concern not to prejudice the Government's safety review of the onshore pipeline. A final version of the safety review by Advantica consultants has been given to Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural resources Noel Dempsey.The company has confirmed that it issued written invitations to ''consenting landowners'', and verbal invitations to ''non-consenting landowners'' and the Rossport five via an ''independent third party''.The five men held their first formal mediation with former Ictu secretary-general Peter Cassells this week and declined to meet the Royal Dutch Shell delegation for that reason. However, Mr Cassells did meet the visiting delegation.The delegation did hear the views of some 60 opponents of the project on Wednesday night, when a group arrived into a scheduled meeting with some 15 ''consenting landowners'' in Cornboy. Ms Maura Harrington of the Shell to Sea campaign said the Shell non-executive directors were ''left in no doubt'' about the level of anxiety and anger over the project. The company declined to comment but it is understood the delegation was quite shaken by the charged atmosphere.Lorna Siggins© The Irish Times

Posted Date: 
27 January 2006 - 12:35am