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From Rossport To The Niger Delta: RTE radio 1 Thu 7pm

About the programme.<?xml:namespace prefix = rte />
If you walk around the little village of Rossport in the Erris peninsula in Co Mayo you will be struck by a large mural of an African man on a gable wall of one of the houses as you walk towards the sea. It is of the Nigerian activist Ken Saro-Wiwa. Equally across the road from the proposed terminal stand nine crosses in memory of the Ogoni 9. Saro-Wiwa was an outspoken critic of the Nigerian military government and what he saw as the environmental and human rights abuses of Shell Oil in his native Ogoni land. He, along with eight others, was executed in November 1995 on charges of involvement in the death of four Ogoni chiefs. In Erris, a strong community based campaign has been established to fight Government plans to bring natural gas from the Corrib Gas field in through Rossport and onto a terminal in Ballanaboy. Last year five men who fought against the pipeline coming through Rossport were jailed for defiance of a High Court order not to obstruct Shell's work. The Rossport Five, as they came to be known, and their incarceration became worldwide news. It was their defiance of Shell Oil and the Irish Government that caused some of the media, NGOs such as AFRI and the community itself to see the parallels between their situation and that of the people of the Niger Delta. In the past few years a number of people associated with the conflict in Ogoni and the Niger Delta have visited Rossport in a show of solidarity among them Owens Wiwa, the brother of Ken Saro-Wiwa and Austin Onuoah an activist and academic.
But how realistic is if for the people of Rossport and Erris, who are against bringing natural gas across their land or to have it refined in their community, to make this comparison and connection between their situation and that of the people of southern Nigeria? Ireland is a mature democracy which has asked a major multi national company to process a natural gas find. Nigeria on the other hand is a Federal state which has been through a number of periods of military rule. The often unfair and unrepresentative nature of Federalism in Nigeria is a key reason for lack of development, conflict and corruption in the Niger Delta. In both situations Shell oil are doing a job for the relevant governments - sourcing, refining and transporting natural resources. But how responsible is a multi national company for the policies of particular governments? How responsible are multi national companies for environmental protection and the safety in areas where they work?
Is Shell, given its world wide status working in a number of diverse and dangerous situations, an easy target or should a company who has a questionable track record world wide be more respective of local communities in terms of sharing information, including local people in the decision making process? Shell have made mistakes in the Corrib Gas Field project but how much was this due to a lack of understanding of Ireland and local politics and how much was it the arrogance of a multi national?
The programme series From Rossport to the Niger Delta will first give the background to the situation in both Erris and the Niger Delta. It will then look at the environmental fears or realities of both communities. It will look at the role Government played in both situations and the role of the oil companies. It will look at the responsibility of Government vis a vis the processing of natural resources. It will also looks at the individual citizen's duty or rights in relation to the provision of energy for the whole nation. In From Rossport to the Niger Delta, Kay Sheehy looks at the situation in both Rossport and the Niger Delta and teases out if it is fair to make a comparison between Shell Oil's activity in Mayo and in Nigeria.Produced and presented by Kay Sheehy radio1 fromrossporttothenigerdelta 1098952.html??>

Picture Gallery

Construction of the pipeline.

Rally in Dublin, the day after the release of the Rossport Five.

Dr Owens Wiwa, brother of Ken Saro-Wiwa, at the Dublin rally on the day after the release of the Rossport Five, October 1st 2005.

Posted Date: 
21 July 2006 - 12:29pm