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'They can protest, but they cannot delay it'

category national | environment | feature author Tuesday February 14, 2006 16:11author by Miriam Cotton Report this post to the editors

A portent of all that was to follow on the discovery of gas off the Mayo coast must surely have been that all of the local SIPTU and other workers who had been involved in the exploration were immediately dropped. Foreign workers from the Phillippines and elsewhere were flown in and out from that point onwards - without ever touching Irish soil. Clearly, there was a determination to keep matters out of Irish hands from before the find - itself only a confirmation of what had long been known/suspected about our resrouces off the west coast (despite propaganda to the contrary that had been circulating in the years preceding the find).

featured image At the Maxwell lecture theatre, Hamilton Building, Trinity College on February the 9th, Eamon Dunphy together with Micheal O Sheigin of the Rossport Five was addressing an audience in advance of the Five's expected appearance in court today. Dunphy said he believed that what Charles Haughey and Ray Burke had done in relation to this issue amounted to treason. Against all the rules of public administration, they had met in secret, (i.e. without any other government representative present), with oil company representatives and had concluded a deal the details of which are still not known to this day. What is known is that the Irish people have no rights whatever to their own natural resources as a result of that deal. What is also certain is that on the very same day in January 1993 that subsequent legislation governing the issuing of exploration licences came into force, Enterprise Ireland applied for a license for the exploration of the Corrib field. Statoil, also on the same day, applied for four exploration licences. What amazing foresight they must have had - or perhaps they knew something the rest of us did not?

O' Sheigin said that it has been like living under martial law in Mayo in recent times - such were the restrictions placed on local people about what they can and cannot do with their own property. He quoted Frank Fahey who said

'they can protest, but they cannot delay'.

In this as in many other issues, the government is now expressly the enemy of its own electorate.

Two children of a family of fourteen - all of whom continue to live in the area - had been turned down for planning permission on the grounds that there was not enough soakage. The irony was apparently lost on the planners of citing this reason while at the same time granting permission for a 25 acre terminal in the same area whose soakage requirements would massively exceed those of two ordinary resdientail dwellings.

Speaking of the determination of the establishment to suppress opposition to the pipeline, O' Sheigin quoted the judge who in open court had told them "I'll take your house, I'll take your car, I'll take them from every farmer in Mayo if I have to'. The local bishops are trying to undermine support for them. RTE had banned the use of the term 'Rossport Five' althoug this had forced them to rely on using 'Shell to Sea' as an alternative, thereby creating some difficulty for themselves in their attempts to support the government line while while trying to find a form of wording that would not seem in any way to legitimise the protest. O' Sheigin said that Fianna Fail and Fine Gael were identically positioned where this issue was concerned. The Greens had formerly been supportive as had Sinn Fein, local Labour and others.

O' Sheigin and Dunphy gave an insightful talk focusing sharply on the toothlessness of the mainstream media on this and similar issues. Relating the history of events to date, O Sheigin gave a chilling account of how the local community in Mayo and the national interests had been so badly used and abused. He expressed his disappointment in Enda Kenny as a local TD and party leader whom he also described as 'an emotional bankrupt'. On pointing out to Kenny the fears that objectors to the pipeline had in view of the deaths of protestors in other countries, Kenny had remarked 'you can get shot here too - it only costs about five hundred to a thousand euros'.

Eamon Dunphy instanced what he called 'the killing of Frank Connolly' (previously described as a 'dangerous bastard' by Dermot Ahern) because of his exposure of Garda corruption in Donegal -among other things - as being the likely fate of any journalist trying to tell the truth about Ireland today. He pointed out that the Independent Media Group (for whom Dunphy works himself) was owned by Tony O' Reilly - also the owner of 'frontier'/exploration licences along the west coast. 'The 'killing' of Frank Fahey was a signal to other journalists', Dunphy said. Connolly was of course latterly reponsible for the Centre for Public Inquiry's independent report on the pipeline which concluded that it should not go ahead.

More insidious than media indifference and collusion was the extrarodinary inertia of Irish people. A representative of the Temple Bar residents group made the observation that 'the Irish people are comatose' and pointed out that the integrity of every aspect of Irish life was being seriously eroded by the constant undermining and avoidance of all forms of democractic accountability by the government - and yet people everywhere were turning a blind eye. The woman from Temple Bar thanked O Sheigin on behalf of everyone for the courageous stand they are taking against vested interests. The fact that only about 60 people attended the talk in the capital city of approx 2 million people was itself a disheartening fact, however. Eamon Dunphy suggested that people do more good than they know just by talking amongst their friends and personal contacts. He also pointed out that the general election was an event that could be used to give prominence to the issue. In that context, another audience member pointed out that Dublin City Council had banned the posting of political notices without so much as a murmur from the general population. Fianna Fail and the PDs are outlawing legitimate forms of public opposition.

By way of an indication of the governments attitude to this issue, O' Sheigin desribed attempts by the Irish government, against international law, to buy oil for control by private interests from Saddam Hussein some years ago. Saddam insisted to the Irish that he would only sell to an appropriate state organisation which the Irish were therefore forced to set up. But the Irish circumvented the requirement by restricting its remit to purchasing oil only - i.e. it would have no involvement in development or other matters. The government were determiend that all natural resources profit from them would stay in private hands. Additionally, and bizarrely, the government, by the introduction of Statutory Instrument 110, transferred responsibility for the Corrib field from the Dept. of Enterprise to the Dept. of the Evnironment (pal of Bertie's Frank Fahey was at the helm in the latter at the time). What unstated obligations are our govenment meeting and why?

Demolishing government/Shell/Statoil arguments about the safety of the line, O Sheigin pointed out how the vested interests continually mislead people on this matter. There were three issues that needed to be understood. Firstly, a PRODUCTION pipeline is not the same thing as TRANSMISSION pipeline. All of the figures on psi that the government and Shell etc are qutoing relate to transmission pipelines and even there the psi permissable (somewhere between 40 and 88 bar is the maximum allowed by Bord Gais) the gas is clean and relatively stable. The proposed pipeline could result in pressure up to 345 bar of volatile, unclean gas. Every independent assessment has concluded that this plan should not go ahead. An Bord Pleanala's original report had concluded that the pipeline 'should not happen under any circumstances'. O Sheigin told the audience that protestors wouldb e wrong to conclude that by backing away from changing legislation to expedite planning applications, the government had thought better. A much simpler and more effective means had been found: ABP has since been effectively neutered by the introduction of temproary contracts for all its inspectors (a practice common throughout the Irish state - where the hell are the unions on this one?) who now understand that a report that doesn't conclude what they government wants it to will mean they are out of a job. And to add insult to injury the government have recruited an oil industry agent whose website openly declares that his business to secure exploration and production rights on the best possible terms for oil companies, to provide an 'indpendent' report on the safety of the pipeline. It is a forgone conclusion that it will contradict all former, genuine, independent reports on the matter.

O' Sheigin also pointed out that the industry models are all based on pipes constructed of perfect steel. In reality there is no such thing: pipes are continually exploding. In Brussels, sixteen people died last year. In New Mixico people died 675' away when a 45 bar pipe exploded.

Related Link: http://www.indymedia.ie/article/74053
author by Marcel Proustpublication date Mon Feb 13, 2006 15:50Report this post to the editors

'Foreign workers from the Phillippines and elsewhere were flown in and out from that point onwards - without ever touching Irish soil. '

I am bewildered by the above sentence. How were they flown in and out without touching Irish soil. Did the plane assume a holding pattern or were these workers housed on the plane once it landed. I would be most grateful if Ms Cotton were to supply additional information regarding this.

author by Miriam Cottonpublication date Mon Feb 13, 2006 16:14Report this post to the editors

OK - literally, they may have touched soil as in transferring from planes to helicpoters for onward transmission to the exploration platforms and rigs. They didn't pass through customs or officially come to Ireland.

author by Marcel Proustpublication date Mon Feb 13, 2006 16:22Report this post to the editors

Pardon me for being a pedant but I have elicited important information from you. If what you say is correct then it is likely that the company has breached several laws and may even be liable to criminal prosecution. Have the campaigners reported these events to the relevant authorities?

author by M Cottonpublication date Mon Feb 13, 2006 16:44Report this post to the editors

I reported what was said: they were the employees of foreign companies who chose, on finding the gas, to employ workers from other countries to take matters from there. The point being made was that there was an extraordinary determination to keep Irish people from having any involvement in this. My understanding is that the workers were resident/staying in other countries in between periods of work on the rigs/platforms (probably Norway, I imagine). But contact Micheal O' Sheigin via Shell to Sea for further clarification about what campaigners did about it at the time or since. As for breaking the law, our government seems to regard law as an irritating obstacle to getting its own way in all things on behalf of its corporate sponsors. Getting around it is the first order of business, every day and in every way.

author by Jonahpublication date Mon Feb 13, 2006 16:53Report this post to the editors

Just to correct something. Eamon Dunphy is not employed by Independent News & Media but was i the past.

author by c murray - TaraWatchpublication date Mon Feb 13, 2006 17:03author email dotliath at eircom dot netauthor address n/aauthor phone 4978026Report this post to the editors

If you protest because you are a concerned citizen you will experience
some or all of these effects: The corporation/company will use the media
and communications to isolate you from your community.They will cite
the consultative process, in which all citizens in the area were invited to.
If this fails and you continue to protest , the courts and injunctions will
follow, David and Goliath stories only run awhile.
Imprisonment has adamaging psychological effect on families of
detainees, that will be tried.You will be portrayed as someone
who stands outside the consultative process,an outlaw.
or they can just wait awhile and continue as before.
The consultative process and its pernigrations is weighted
towards the corporation. Beware it usually starts as a focus group.
it is essential not to engage on any level with a process that is designed
to alienate and divide communities.
This statement is your basic attempt at alienation and psych warfare.
THPG ran a good series of workshops on citizen empowerment,
and the use of these processes from consultation, through injunction
and media isolation in Tara-Skyrne.

Related Link: http://www.hilloftara.info
author by MCpublication date Mon Feb 13, 2006 17:21Report this post to the editors

Eamon Dunphy said he still writes for the Irish Daily Star - an Independent Group newspaper.

author by Sentinalpublication date Mon Feb 13, 2006 17:53Report this post to the editors

"More insidious than media indifference and collusion was the extrarodinary inertia of Irish people"

What an extraordinarily arrogant statement! You presume that because people don't support the Shell to Sea campaign that they have no interest in it. Did it ever occur to you that not everyone agrees with your views?

author by M Cottonpublication date Mon Feb 13, 2006 18:09Report this post to the editors

Again, I was reporting what was said. I did not myself make the point that inertia was the most insidious problem (although I do support that view) - it was the representative of the Temple Bar residents group who raised the point - I hope that is clear from the report. No assumption is intended or implied that necessarily everybody opposes the pipeline but it seems clear that of those who do oppose it or who are concerned about corruption generally, only a small number actually do anythinng about their concern. People are afraid to speak out for fear of retribution and that fear is exactly what the government relies on. In reality, if, say, the huge numbers of people who oppose this government on many issues were as vocal as possible every time, it is at least arguable that it would bring about a fundamental change in the way things are done. That was the gist of what was said at the meeting.

author by c murray - TaraWatchpublication date Mon Feb 13, 2006 19:42author email dotliath at eircom dot netauthor address n/aauthor phone 4978026Report this post to the editors

This is not about inertia. It is about abuse and the use
of legislative structures to enforce the consultative
planning process on communities to bedevil
and disempower them. Martin Kaye @ Limerick University
has held seminars on citizen empowerment in which
the planning process is exposed as a methodology
of disempowerment.The idea of partnership in
stewarding the landscape is risible, the consultative
process is weighted against the community and towards
the corporation. There should be a thesis on the
function of the partnership process in relation to union/fast-track planning
and disempowerment.
Sometimes the law is an ass.

Related Link: http://www.hilloftara.info
author by supporterpublication date Mon Feb 13, 2006 19:56Report this post to the editors

I thought the hearing was rescheduled for today again, but don't see any news?
Intereting talk putting things in their context.
Don't suppose they recorded the talk? and will be making it available free?

author by Tadhg - Dublin Shell to Seapublication date Mon Feb 13, 2006 20:22author email dublinshelltosea at gmail dot comReport this post to the editors

Great report, very accurate account of the talk.

Just a few brief points of clarification: Although it appears disheartening that only about 60 people attended the talk, this should be seen in context. The event was organised at very short notice, and because it was a Trinity College event, the student societies who organised it might have gotten into trouble with the college authorities if Shell to Sea had leafleted or postered heavily outside the college, so a fair few people simply didn't know it was on. It should also be borne in mind that a talk about the European Constitution and workers' rights in the aftermath of the Irish Ferries dispute the night before with Jack O'Connor from SIPTU, only had an attendance of thirty or so.
TCD has a plethora of events every night for people to attend, and students have a busy time now because they often have part-time or even full-time jobs as well as doing their degree work. So it's not as disheartening as it might seem.

There was a court date set for this morning, but it's been put back again for two weeks. In my experience these "two weeks" can last a lot longer than fourteen days...

For those interested in making their feelings about this issue known to the government, there is a large scale protest planned for lunchtime on Friday outside the Department of Marine on Adelaide Road. Don't forget as well that there's a fundraiser tonight at the Dice Bar.

The talk was recorded, so I might try and track down a tape and see if someone can upload here.

Related Link: http://www.shelltosea.com
author by Bevpublication date Mon Feb 13, 2006 20:33Report this post to the editors

I take your point, C, that the government has learned to manipulate pretty well every form of democracy including these phoney consultative process. Nevertheless I dont think it's for lack of understanding of this manipulation that people are not coming forward. Time and again I have been to public meetings or been involved in protest groups where people simply will not come forward because they are afraid of retribution. In reality they are not wrong although the irony is that, as MC has already said, if enough people did come forward often enough it would begin to change. We should be holding our public representatives to account for how they manage the country and the resources which belong to all of us. The reality seems to be that once in power, those resources (including our taxes) become their personal possessions. It's amazing that even Saddam Hussein refused to do business with our government on those terms.

author by Johnpublication date Mon Feb 13, 2006 20:51Report this post to the editors

You're paranoid. The reason the licensing terms were relaxed in 1993 was because during the previous 20 years not a single commercial find was made in Irish waters. As a result, exploration in Irish waters had ground to a virtual halt by the late 80s and early 90s. The relaxation in licensing terms led directly to an increase in exploration in the mid 1990s which in turn resulted in the discovery of the Corrib field. If the exploration terms had not been relaxed, the Corrib field would never have been discovered. You live in a fantasy world in which Ireland's offshore waters are teaming with oil and gas fields. They're not. Exploration has been going on in Irish waters since the late 1960s. Billions have been spent by oil companies on this exploration. But all that's been found is a couple of, by international standards, small gas fields and no oil fields. Given this barrenness, it is ludicrous to suggest that the same licensing terms should be imposed on exploration in Irish waters as on exploration in waters, such as the North Sea, where hundreds of commercial oil and gas discoveries have been made. If you restore the licensing terms to what they were pre-1993, you won't have a single oil company exploring Irish waters. Given your hatred of capitalism, this presumably is what you want.

author by Seán Ryanpublication date Mon Feb 13, 2006 21:01Report this post to the editors

"I'll take your house, I'll take your car, I'll take them from every farmer in Mayo if I have to."

This sounds more the work of some arsehole landlord, than the work of an arsehole judge.

There was a time when the family home was considered sacred. Check out that wonderful work of fiction to see my point, the Constitution.

Article 40 section 5. The dwelling of every citizen is inviolable and shall not be
forcibly entered save in accordance with law.

I suppose every troll around will try to point out that this article is used primarily as a guide for when the Gardaí wish to exercise an action of search/seizure. This is true. But Article 40 is titled "Personal Rights." And further, the Constitution is not supposed to be a guide book, it's supposed to be a rule book.

Nowhere in our constitution are the rights of a company (a non person) seen to supercede the rights of the individual. The constitution allows a lot of lattitude to our government, and this is why this fiasco, that puts Irish families and homes at risk, exists. They may apply that much abused maxim, "the will of the many outweighs the needs of the few."

I don't live near where this proposed monstrosity is to be supposedly sited, so I'm not in the immediate high risk area. But I oppose it nonetheless. And I fail utterly to see how threats ofered to my fellow country men and women are an act that is for my betterment. I fail to see how this pipeline would benefit me either.

To threaten to take a family home, a very big crime must be in perpetration or have been committed. In this instance the will of the many equates with the interests of a foreign multinational.

In fairness the rights and wrongs in this dispute have long been decided, by those who were threatened by the pipeline.

So are the Government just plain wrong?

Or are they Evil?

I'm picking the second one.

Sláinte,
Seán

author by Rudigerpublication date Tue Feb 14, 2006 17:13Report this post to the editors

Thanks for the report.

Meanwhile more developments on gas fields off Ireland.

“Initial estimates suggest the field could be 25 times the size of the Kinsale gas field.”

Any estimates on how much money the Irish people will get off it.

http://www.rte.ie/business/2006/0213/providence.html
http://news.independent.co.uk/business/news/article3452...9.ece
http://ogj.pennnet.com/articles/article_display.cfm?Sec...9&p=9

Related Link: http://www.stopesso.org/
author by xpublication date Tue Feb 14, 2006 17:57Report this post to the editors

The population of Dublin and surrounding 'hinterlands' such as Bray, Clonee, etc which are just outside the county borders but for all intensive purposes are part of the city is just under one million. Nowhere near 2 million. Yet!

author by frankpublication date Tue Feb 14, 2006 18:51Report this post to the editors

why has no one bothered to address the points raised by john/dunaree2000 above ....who says that if it weren't for such generous licence terms, no one would touch corrib?

JOhn, i can't say i'm very qualified to reply....my current understanding of the situation is based on attending a talk given by Shell to SEa people in New CAstle west, co \limerick and a reading of the Centre for Public inquiry.....

however....it does seem that the terms of the deal with Shell are so bad that it would practically be as well off for the gas to be left in hte sea..
1. no special price for Irish users.
2. No priority use clause in emergency
3. no state stake
4. all costs of development can be written off against tax.

It's hard to ascertain the size of the corrib find....some speculate that Rossport is to become an eventual gateway for an much bigger field....

in the period when cheap energy was in freely available, there was no much incentive to explore Ireland's offshore...but now that CHeap oil is at an end, and speculation is rife that we are entering the period of Peak Oil, big oil companies ARE interested in smaller finds.

author by Timpublication date Tue Feb 14, 2006 19:34Report this post to the editors

Frank, nobody has bothered to engage with John because regular users of Indymedia know what he's like. He pops up every now and again and starts abusing people for not having as much money as his parents. If you try to debate with him, he denies well-established facts and changes the subject any time he is losing the argument. We have better things to do with our time.

author by Johnpublication date Tue Feb 14, 2006 19:35Report this post to the editors

To Frank. An intelligent contribution on this site. How unusual. But, congratulations anyway. To cover your points. (1) No country in the EU can negotiate a special price for any commodity produced in that country. Its against the rules of free trade. The price is determined by market forces and all countries pay the going market rate, regardless of whether or not the commodity is produced in that country or imported. Thus, Ireland gets oil at the same price as the UK, although the UK produces almost all its own oil while Ireland imports all its oil. Do you want the UK to negotiate a cheap price for oil from the North Sea, leaving Ireland to pay the world market price? That would certainly be great for our competitiveness. (2) The point about 'priority in an emergency' is irrelevant in practice. The gas field off Corrib isn't even big enough to supply all Ireland's needs. It would be an economic absurity to build a pipeline from Ireland to Europe to supply them with gas from Corrib (which wouldn't even meet 1 per cent of Europe's needs) when there is a market for all the Corrib gas right on Corrib's doorstep. In addition, to send the gas to Europe would require sending it through a pipeline from Corrib either to Dublin, to link up with a UK/Ireland pipeline or to the border, to link up with the UK gas grid there. If there was an emergency and Ireland's oil/gas supplies from abroad were cut off, it would be the simplest of matters for Ireland to physically stop gas being exported. There was no 'priority in an emergency' agreement for the Kinsale gas field, but in practice all the Kinsale gas was used to meet Ireland's needs. (3) In very few countries does the state take a share in oil/gas companies. The UK no longer does and the U. States never did. (4) Writing costs off against tax is perfectly normal for all business. If you ever set up a business yourself, the first thing you'll do is claim tax relief on your costs when doing your tax returns. The view that the gas might as well be left in the ground is not shared by the ESRI, a rather left-inclined organisation. They recently published a report stating that the Corrib gas should be brought ashore as soon as possible. Their reasoning was simple. North Sea gas is running down and Ireland is increasingly dependent on gas from 4,000 miles away in Russia. We are right at the end of a 4,000-mile pipeline and more vulnerable than any other EU country, should there be a disruption in supply. The consequences of such a disruption would be massive lay-offs and thousands of deaths of old people in winter. It would be criminal of any government to allow such a situation to develop when there's gas on our doorstep.

author by Tadhg - Shell to Seapublication date Tue Feb 14, 2006 19:36author email dublinshelltosea at gmail dot comReport this post to the editors

As Micheál pointed out at the talk, the licensing framework in place would have resulted in any company which applied for a license having to pay some of the money from their profits to the Irish government, and for years and years the exploration companies said there were no finds worth exploiting. Meanwhile they were lobbying to get the deals changed, and as soon as it was (changed so they could keep all the profits to themselves) they suddenly applied for a license (under the new terms) for -you guessed it- the Corrib Field.

Some cynics might suggest that they were aware all along of what was out there, and simply didn't want to declare just how good the finds were until they had "oiled the wheels" of government and altered the terms of any exploitation license to greatly benefit their shareholders. However I'm sure John will tell us that it's purely coincidental that the very first license applied for after the rules changed was the incredibly rich Corrib field.

Perhaps John can tell us why Nigeria has a better deal in place with Shell than Ireland?

Maybe he knows why the Faroe Islands also get more from their relationship with the big energy companies than we do?

Why did these companies need such a special deal to entice them to exploit the Corrib field? Or was it that they realised what was out there, and decided to make deals with local politicians which would transform what was a good deal for them into a fantastic one?

Related Link: http://www.shelltosea.com
author by Colmpublication date Wed Feb 15, 2006 11:23Report this post to the editors

Thanks Mirriam for an excellent article as usual, and to everybody else for good contrbutions and debate. (best on site in a while)

I've heard that Irelands only benefit will be corporation tax on profits from the gas field. Comments?

John's points represent liberal commercial thinking, which is a valid POW and dominates the mainstream. It should be engaged with, as it is the dominant logic. I find the brass tacks practicalsim a bit victorian but not in any way crackpot.
This victorian indutrialism does in fairness, get fings done. and the man in't street has and always had a lot of sympathy for it
Left leaning posters often argue solutions impossible in the context of international trade treaties etc. and are not dismissed as readily. Nice fantisies of taking back what's ours and other fantasies are indulged while mention of capitalism's legal grip(it does work that's the problem) get the short shrift.

As regards the inertia mentioned - I think the quesience and ingnorance of people is talked up alot(never assume people are stupid), while the more insideous and difficult to explain reason-indifferent complicity is rarely discussed or dealt with. Ethical audits anyone?

author by anarchaeologist - Shell to Sea Dublinpublication date Wed Feb 15, 2006 14:41Report this post to the editors

Anyone who missed the talk can come along on Friday at 12.45 to the Department of the Marine and Natural Resources, to let the government know that this issue is going to become an increasingly painful thorn in their side.

The building is on Adelaide Road (turn right at the bottom of Leeson Street just before the canal, it's just there...) and we'd like to encourage people to bring their bikes for an environmentally friendly demo with a twist!

The action is part of a weekend of activities in support of the Rossport Solidarity Camp.

Related Link: http://www.shelltosea.com
author by Gyropublication date Wed Feb 15, 2006 18:25Report this post to the editors

Frank! I replied to John's question under a different thread in connection with the Rossport Five on Sept 16th last. Look for the Title "We are offering carrots to well fed donkeys!" under the Related Link below!

Related Link: http://www.indymedia.ie/newswire.php?story_id=71937&con...21368
author by anonpublication date Wed Feb 15, 2006 20:04Report this post to the editors

What is Christy Loftus and John Egan as shells local pr people up to?

author by M Cottonpublication date Thu Feb 16, 2006 11:45Report this post to the editors

The following is an extract from an exchange between a local fisherman in Mayo and some Shell executives:

"...I'm speaking for a lot of people that's fishing out there...because you're taking the effluent, you're taking all the heavy metals out of this bloody refinery and throwing them in Broadhaven, and it's been proven that that place will not wash out. You have the Atlantic winds coming, in, and you're having the swell coming in so it's all going to wash up into Broadhaven. And I have a young son who wouldn't go to school for me. He started fishing when he was thirteen - he's twenty now - and I will protect his livelihood. I'm not going to starve with the hunger, Im' not going to die with the hunger, do you unerstand? But, his livelihood will be protected, guarantee you that."

'Sorry, I didn't get you name'

'My name is Pat' O Donnell, I'm a fisherman.'

'...and who do you represent?'

'I have six sisters that emigrated back in the sixties, I'm the second youngest of eleven. I left school also at thirteen. I had two choices in life; go fishing, or get out of this country...I choose to go fishing, right? Listen to me...there's five boys in the family, five are fishing. I'm speaking for them, and I'm speaking for their families. So, you'll have to lock all of us up, you'll have to put us unto Cloverhill Prison.'

author by Charles B.publication date Thu Feb 16, 2006 13:18Report this post to the editors

To M. Cotton,

Whatever about the heavy metals and other effluents being discharged into Broad haven bay, and I know this may be a little nit picky, but if one were to choose a cause, and had a choice between the Corrib gasfield and the exploitation thereof, and the protection of the north atlantic ecosystem (and some would therefore say the entire global subsea ecosystem), which would you choose? I know that this (Corrib)is a burning issue for the people of the region, and indeed for antiglobalisation and anticorporate activists, but wouldn't the latter be just a little more important?
It is a fact that we are overfishing the north atlantic, and with the recent stories about the illegal catches being made by Irish fishermen, we seem to be disregarding the quotas laid down by our knowledgeable European controllers. What is even more disturbing is that any marine ecologist worth his salt would say that the quotas are too large and the only way to prevent the collapse of the NA ecosystem and the extinction of species of popular fish such as cod is to stop altogether. So therefore is the emotive and subjective plea being made by our fisherman friend a little ironic?
Obviously there needs to be some measures out into place to help those whose livlihoods are threatened, but the main threat to these gentlemen should not be the emission of pollutants from Shells plant into the bay, but pressure from environmental lobby groups to radically scale down the fishing industry in Ireland?
Perhaps this is a subject for a different thread, just thought I would bring it up though.
If it were up to me, we would all be planting rapeseed and running everything on biodiesel, and therefore I do not support the exploitation of more fossil fuels with the subsequent load on our already overburdened ecosphere.

author by Johnpublication date Thu Feb 16, 2006 18:09Report this post to the editors

So, would the fisherman like to tell us what sort of boat he goes fishing in? A rowing boat? A wind-powered boat? Somehow I doubt it. More than likely his boat is powered by oil. Now, if that's the case he's being rather hypocritical, because the oil he uses to power his boat must come from somewhere , and wherever it comes from the locals there could adopt the same hostile attitude to oil exploration and development that he does. Then he'd really be sunk.

author by MCpublication date Fri Feb 17, 2006 13:02Report this post to the editors

There is no hypocrisy in what Pat is saying at all.

John, you demonstrate a complete lack of understanding of the position of the Rossport 5 and that of Shell to Sea. They are not arguing that the project shouldn't go ahead -only that it should be done safely at sea. (Shell to Sea - gedditt!!!). That way, Shell etc will still be free to make handsome profits for their own exclusive use and the locals will get to keep their beautiful environment safe and intact.

What's your problem?

author by Maigh Eopublication date Fri Feb 17, 2006 14:36Report this post to the editors

It has been pointed out to John many times before that safety is the primary issue the local residents have with the proposed pipeline / refinery Shell project. Safety involves not just the issue of explosion, but also the safety of those living nearby who will be exposed to air pollution from the refinery, the safety of fishermen at sea, the safety of people swimming and diving in the bay which will have byproducts from the refining process pumped into it (just outside it actually, but knowledge of the currents indicate that all will be swept back into the bay again) etc. It is absurd to suggest that safety must be compromised to ensure that any development go ahead.

author by Johnpublication date Fri Feb 17, 2006 15:28Report this post to the editors

Your claims to be concerned solely with safety are bogus. Read most of the threads on this site. For example, there's one currently from an outfit called Mayo anti-capitalists (I kid you not). Its clear that most involved in this protest see it (in their fantasies at least) as some sort of launching-pad for the overthrow of capitalism. Mad they may be, but its clear that that is their motivation, not safety. The safety aspect of this project has been investigated by respectable international safety experts. They gave it a clean bill of health. Why should we pay more attention to the views of a handful of not-very-intelligent-looking Mayo peasants than to the views of international safety experts? And, as I've pointed out many times, there are also far greater safety risks involved in transporting workers (repeat: workers, not Shell executives) by helicopter to and from a refinery built at sea. There would also be far greater risk of death to a refinery worker from a relatively minor accident or even a heart attack were the refinery built way out in the Atlantic, since the time taken to get him to hospital would be many times greater. I think you'll find that most industrial plants are built on land and not on water, and its for those very reasons. Next, you'll be asking for the Alcan plant to be re-located out in the Atlantic. Clearly you care nothing about the safety of workers who'd be toiling miles out in the ocean to bring you the gas that would keep you from freezing at night. You don't see the whole picture. You don't make any attempt to quantify in a scientific way the risks involved in the various alternatives and come to a balanced judgement. As for pollution dangers, were there to be a leak from the refinery, the effect on fishing stocks would be far greater from a refinery located in the sea than one located on land. But, all this debate has gone on long enough. Let's have a referendum in Mayo and let the people decide if they want this project to go ahead. You'll lose the referendum and you know it. That's why you don't want one.

author by Maigh Eopublication date Fri Feb 17, 2006 16:37Report this post to the editors

Why do you value the safety of workers, who would choose to work on a refinery at sea, over the safety of residents, who do not have a choice?

author by Johnpublication date Fri Feb 17, 2006 17:05Report this post to the editors

Because the risk to the workers is real, whereas the risk to the residents is minuscule. Life is full of minuscule risks. Every time you travel to Dublin by car for one of these ShelltoSea protests, there is a risk you'll knock down and kill someone on the way. I live under the flight path of Dublin airport. There's a risk a plane could fall on top of my house. Do I worry about it? No. Do I try to get Dublin airport relocated out in the Irish Sea? No. Because I'm intelligent enough to know the risk is tiny and the economic benefits more than compensate for the tiny risk. That's what's meant by making a balanced judgement. Most people in economically-developed industrialised areas such as Dublin think along similar lines. Unfortunately, right across the world, in less-developed areas that have not undergone much industrialisation people have a peasant mentality and are easily conned into believing that the risk involved in some industrial project is far greater than it it really is. That's what's happened here.

author by M cottonpublication date Fri Feb 17, 2006 19:02Report this post to the editors

Tracy Ryan of the Rossport Solidarity Camp spoke in Clonakilty of what she called 'The Dodgy Deal' made with Shell, Marathon and Statoil. She told how the Norwegian people will actually benefit more from this deal than the Irish and how Shell are expected to make approximately 6billion from it.

Ryan also spoke of the 'eco hype' that mainstream press reports focus on in when reporting the camp and its activities. This has resulted in members of the camp not dealing with the press directly other than through a spokesperson, thus ensuring that the real issues, rather the people in the camp stay the focus of attention. ''This is serious work' she said' it is not a place in which to just hang about. People will be expected to help out with the pickets and the running of the camp. No drink or drugs are allowed."

The camp reopens in a weeks time and this year it will be located at Glengad beach on the opposite side of the estuary to Rossport. Ryan is anticipating that this year the pickets will be different and that there is likely to be a real stand off.

"Your support will be very much needed", she said.

"It suited the government last year to let the pickets go ahead while the five were in prison. They could not afford more confrontation in the circumstances. But Solidarity believe the campaign can be won not just on its own merits but by standing side by side with similar campaigns for justice elsewhere, but also by standing side by side with the people of Ringaskiddy in their fight against the toxic waste incinerators there, with the Ogoni people of Nigeria and with the people of Bolivia, for example."

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