07 November 2008

New Initiative to settle the Corrib Gas Dispute

The Irish government has launched a new initiative, which has the task to try breaking the deadlock in the long-running Corrib gas pipeline dispute in Co. Mayo.

A community forum for development in the area is to be established and will be chaired by the former secretary of the Department of Justice, Joe Brosnan.

Mr. Brosnan is a member of the Independent Monitoring Commission for Northern Ireland and vice chairman of the Institute for European Affairs in Dublin.

Launching the initiative, Eamon Ryan (right), the Minister for Communications, Energy & Natural Resources, said the government had "a duty to protect the rights of all its citizens, including the local community, as well as those of Shell".

His colleague in Cabinet, Minister for Community, Rural & Gaeltacht Affairs Eamon Ó Cuív (left), said that the forum would "seek to create common ground and to mediate differences constructively".

Work on laying the Corrib gas pipeline is currently suspended, but is due to recommence next year.
Meanwhile construction work on the multi-million Euro gas refinery site at Bellanaboy in the north of Co. Mayo is continuing.

The local communities in the north-west of Co. Mayo have been protesting against the scheme since its inception in 2002. They have formed the very poplar 'Shell to Sea' campaign and - in the face of constant intimidation by Shell and the government - have been objecting to the site of the gas refinery and the route of the onshore pipeline. (see my entries of April 28th, July 24th, September 14th, 19th and 24th)

Three years ago, veteran trade unionist Peter Cassells tried unsuccessfully to broker a deal between Shell Ireland and its opponents.

Now ministers Ryan and Ó Cuív, the latter a grandson of the former President and Taoiseach Eamon de Valera, are to invite all sides in the dispute to take part in new talks to try to break the deadlock.
It is understood they intend to take a more hands-on approach to trying to find an agreement which would see gas from the Corrib field being brought ashore.

It is now estimated that the field, 80 km off the Mayo coast, has deposits worth over € 9 billion. Sadly, under the current contractual agreement with Shell, Ireland will not see one Cent of this money and will have to buy its own gas back from Shell at world market prices. When the first negotiations took place, Fianna Fáil Minister Ray Burke - who was later tried for corruption, convicted and sent to prison - gave our national reserves of natural gas to Shell for free! This is a scandal in itself, and the matter should be revisited and re-negotiated. On the grounds of Burke's conviction for corruption they would have a good reason to do so.

Shell says that it is not prepared to move the now constructed € 300 million refinery (see photo right), located at Bellanaboy, Co. Mayo.

But the local residents and their very active 'Shell to Sea' campaign say they still have serious health and safety concerns about it and the gas pipeline.
So one wonders what new proposals to solve the problem will be made by the two Eamons from the Cabinet.
I will follow developments closely and continue to report on the matter in this weblog.

The Emerald Islander


Shell To Hell said...

The chair of the new forum is a former civil servant at the Dept of Justice, so when he has to adjudicate between the gardai and the protesters, he's not exactly going to be Tony Gregory is he?

The fact that he was on the discredited "Independent Monitoring Commission", a body set up to monitor the paramilitary groups after the Good Friday peace agreement even though it had no investigators and hardly any staff or budget (so it was simply a conduit for government press releases) doesn't build confidence.

Monday is the anniversary of the execution of Ken Saro Wiwa and eight others in Nigeria in 1995. Their fate shows what happens when governments get too cosy with companies like Shell.

Let's hope the people of Ireland have learned some lessons from the Nigerian experience.

Anonymous said...

Come on Ireland and Shell to Sea (i.e. MH) grow up.

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