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Minister labelled ‘disingenuous’ over set-up for talks between Shell and the Rossport Five

Dáil clash over Corrib mediation

by David Lynch


A new row over the controversial Corrib gas pipeline in Co Mayo broke out in the Dáil yesterday.In angry exchanges, Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources Noel Dempsey defended the mediation process he established.Independent TD Jerry Cowley, echoing claims made by the Shell to Sea campaign, said the minister had previously stated that the government-sponsored mediation process would be between the Rossport Five and Shell Ireland.“When I was talking about ‘both sides’ in the Dáil and in the press releases I was talking about one that is generally in favour of the Corrib project and the other which is generally against it. There are more than five people in this whole process,” said Minister Dempsey.Mr Cowley shouted across the Dáil chamber but Mr Dempsey said that he would not be intimidated.“You’re not going to intimidate me like some of your friends down in Mayo. “The deputy should speak for the entire community not just a small element within it,” Minister Dempsey said.“This is the kind of anarchy that Deputy Cowley wants to support. Typical of the intimidation and anarchy that Deputy Cowley wants to espouse.”Mr Cowley said the minister knew that the mediation process was scuppered. The mediation process had been established by the government last year, headed by former trade union chief Peter Cassells and was to involve Shell Ireland and the Rossport Five.In June last year, the Rossport Five were sent to jail for refusing to obey a High Court order not to interfere with construction of the Corrib pipeline in Co Mayo by Shell Ireland. They were eventually released after a nationwide campaign.Shell’s gas terminal for its Corrib pipeline project is being built on the Bellanaboy site in Co Mayo. Concerns continue regarding environmental and safety issues arising from the pipeline.Earlier in the Dáil session Minister Dempsey said that he had received the government commissioned an Advantica report on safety issues surrounding the Corrib pipeline and it will be published shortly.Mark Garavan from the Shell to Sea campaign told Daily Ireland that despite comments made by the minister in the Dáil, he believed that the Rossport Five represented the “clear majority of local people”.“Of course there are diversity of opinions on this issue locally, however it is clear that the Rossport Five represent the views of the clear majority. “In a tightly-knit community like this one, it would become very clear very quickly if the majority of local people did not support the men.“And that support is demonstrable in a number of ways including rallies and demonstrations that have been held in support of them”.Mr Garavan also defended the campaign’s view of the mediation process.The campaigner said there was a clear difference of opinion: “Of course there are differing views in the community however this particular mediation process was to be between the five men and Shell”.“Why would there be any point to a mediation process between people who support Shell and Shell themselves.“The minister is being completely disingenuous when he comes to the issue of mediation”.

Posted Date: 
22 February 2006 - 3:20am