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Shell Spin Means Nothing, the Struggle Continues

Report on last two days of spin coming from Shell and the state, as well as details of upcoming gathering in Rossport Solidarity Camp.
Shell and the state have gone into public relations over drive in the last couple of days.On Wednesday the Advantica report was issued, this is a report into the safety of the proposed pipeline commissioned by the government as a propaganda exercise after people power shut down construction last summer. It claimed the pipeline would be safe so long as it was operated at 144 bar pressure. The state is currently building another gas pipeline in Mayo which is to operate at 80 bar pressure and all house construction is banned from 200 metres of it, yet the pipe to be in Rossport would have houses within 70 metres of it.
On Thursday Andy Pyle, top of the feeding chain for Shell Exploration and Production in Ireland, said: ''Mistakes have been made. We regret the part that we played in the jailing of the five men last summer. For the hurt that this caused the local community I am sorry''.One would think it apparent that the hurt caused by explosions and pollution is of a magnitude greater than that caused by imprisonments.
All this furore, tumult, and hype ignores the fact that the main focus of protest on the ground in Erris for many months has been the refinery in Ballinaboy. This is an intrinsic part of the project, along with the pipeline, and so to is opposition to it an intrinsic part of the campaign, for it too poses considerable health and safety dangers. These dangers are detailed in a pdf leaflet here
This contemptuous pretence of concern for a community which has been ignored throughout the six years this development has been stuck on the planning board was greeted with defiance in Erris, with Willie Corduff saying to the media that: ''We're a great country for acknowledging our martyrs, so maybe the Government will be raising a plaque to me in another 50 years, because that's what I'm prepared to do - die''. Some of the T.V. reports would give you the mistaken impression that work has been halted pending the publication of the report, and that this was the green light, the go ahead, etc.., etc…, one might wonder how a study solely into the pipeline could halt the construction of the refinery, and how it could be responsible for this halt when the construction shut down predates the launch of the study. Of course no corporate or state media outlet wants to admit that it was people power that done it, is doing it, and will do it, for as long as it takes. Though we have kept them at sea thus far, there is no space for complacency; their goals go well beyond just one development. In January 2005 the Department of the Marine was selling exploration licences with the special offer that: “The infrastructure of the Corrib Field could significantly reduce the development cost of any further commercial discoveries in the vicinity”. An article here outlines some of the detail on the other profit possibilities in the energy sector off our coast, and the interests of parts of the Irish elite in them.
While the window dressing and spin emanating from Shell and the state in the last two days, may, perhaps, in some fit of myopia, be an attempt to mollify the opposition to their plans, it is more the case that such pr rituals solidify resistance in the expectation that they are a preparation for an attempt to force a resumption of building. After all this is the route they are likely to take chipping away at the popular outrage of last year until they are in a more favourable political position to re-commence their march on Erris. Irrespective of their hype or the intention behind it the Shell to Sea campaign will continue to mobilise to be ready to halt any attempt to restart construction. With that in mind Rossport Solidarity Camp is holding a major gathering on the June Bank Holiday weekend, the 2nd to the 5th.A major focus of the weekend is to be a forum on privatisation, which will have speakers talking about the privatisation of natural resources in Ireland and Latin America. The gathering will also feature many other workshops, including one on the history of northwest Mayo, and one on women’s struggle in Venezuela. There is also to be music from Cork based techno sound system Tir na gCasta, and local traditional musicians. The event will take place in the camp itself, which was established in June of last year, and is currently located on the beach by Broadhaven Bay where Shell plan to begin their nine kilometre of pipeline. Vegetarian meals will be available at very affordable prices and accommodation will be in tents. Part of the gathering will be a tour of the area given by campers and local Shell to Sea activists. This is a useful way to get a good picture of the extensive development planned for the area, as it takes up many miles of road, and includes a 500 acre refinery site, as well as the more famous pipeline. The immediacy of the health and safety issues to the local community can really be appreciated when seen at close hand, likewise the beauty of the coastline starkly underlines the environmental vandalism the state is trying to perpetrate here. From a practical point of view, as the camp is intended as a base for more people to travel to the area to join the struggle when needed, it is a good idea to familiarise yourself with it and the area beforehand. So the June bank holiday weekend is an opportunity for that.

How long more is this charade to last? by JFH Fri May 05, 2006 12:19
Kevin Moore’s Report to An Bord Pleanala 2002, among other things stated:” The value of the Corrib gas resource has not been quantified in any of the information now before the Board. Thus, the considerations on the cost of the proposed development compared with the alternative cannot be determined.” The Corrib Gas got its thumbs up signs that it was a commercially exploitable gas field with the publications of the Wood McKenzie Report 1998. The price of oil was then $15, now it is approaching $75 (price of gas moves in tandem). The treatment by our government of its citizens in different parts of the isle is unbelievable. At the same time that the processing of the Corrib Gas field was being considered, negotiations were been concluded for the Dundrum Bypass 1.2KM. €44.4Mn €1,269 an inch. Contrast this with the heavy handed way that negotiations with citizens of the same government were being treated down in Mayo. There have been hundreds of miles of new road laid in the last 10 years, all done without the gaoling of one citizen.Contrast this with the treatment handed out to retired people, small farmers from Mayo with the laying of a pipeline carrying highly toxic gas at huge pressure past their doorways. The following quote comes from an article ‘Croke Patrick and the lament for the farmer’s friend!’ printed in the Mayo Yearbook 2000 and reprinted in 2002 “The ‘I’m alright Jack’ mentality is rampant. Good and well meaning people hiding behind controversial policies of large institutions is a symptom of our way of life. It appears that the bigger the indiscretion (more profit or power!) the less likely they will be penalised. This results in a disastrous effect on the natural way, both on society’s moral/ethical standards and in the protection of our environment, both of which are deteriorating rapidly.” When it comes to dealings with the West, a quote from a Richard Moore, a spokesman for the then Department of Public Enterprise when commenting on hooking up various towns in Mayo to the national Grid, comes to mind “There is neither the industry in the area nor the population to make it justifiable”. It seems that country areas in the West down through the years had too many people or not enough people depending on which glib answer suited Leinster House!If our government renegotiated a royalty of 12 ½ % (the minimum any other country receives) with the oil companies, and assuming an estimated 25bn cubic meters of gas, (I saved this figure from someplace, and I am not flippant about these things) they would be collecting close to €185,625 per day. If it is a case of money talks, then we ourselves could more than finance the processing of gas offshore. In any case the government should invest money in this venture; get some sort of negotiating clout as mentioned in an article “The Irish and UK citizen gets the worst deal in the world from the exploitation of the hydrocarbon resources around their coastline” in the Mayo Association Yearbook 2003. Interestingly, the Blair Government have slapped on extra taxes since this article was written. The British take from Oil revenues fell when the Thatcher Government sold off the nationalised British national oil company Britoil, and British Gas; now regarded as a strategic error.Shell and Co will not “spend a penny!” and will fully exploit the wide open fields given to them by what appear to be very questionable deals made with past Government Ministers as distinct from Leinster House approved contracts. Energy Contracts are being renegotiated right around the world. The EU even got Norway to suspend its GFU and put pressure on them to renegotiate some of their long term contracts between Norway and various EU governments. Also, I am sure that what is happening in South America is scaring the big oil players.The least our Government should do as well as guaranteeing supply is to guarantee the safety of its citizens. The fact that the costing of alternatives was and seems still not to be on the Government Agenda is, is, is, ----------Jesus there is no words to describe it!

Posted Date: 
5 May 2006 - 12:33pm