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Appeal to All Irish Environmental Campaigns

category national | environment | opinion/analysis author Friday October 20, 2006 14:12author by Miriam Cotton - Friends of the State Report this post to the editors

Tara! CHASE! Bantry! Waterford! Dun Laoighre & Others

On this day of action in county Mayo, this article is submitted to make the case for all objectors to contentious building schemes throughout Ireland to set aside their own campaigns for the time being and join with Shell to Sea in their efforts to have the Corrib gas refinery sited at sea. This issue could hardly be more serious in the precedent that is being set for the government response to public protest over public and commercial planning activities everywhere. It is not exaggerated to say that if current policing and media activities go unchallenged in respect of the Corrib gas project we will be walking with eyes wide open into a police state.

With the introduction of the Strategic Infrastructure Bill and the reverses in democratic participation that it embodies, the legislative framework for such a state is already partially in place. In this context, where Shell to Sea will go, other peaceful and democratic objections will follow: heavy-handed policing backed up by complicit media coverage whose aim is to invert the truth of what is happening. If this goes unchallenged, all we will be left with is the danger and the pollution, the despoliation of some of the most beautiful parts of the country and a handful of smug, newly made millionaires.

A prominent member of the Shell to Sea campaign has said he believes intelligence files are being gathered on behalf of Shell in respect of anyone who challenges the current Corrib Gas project. It is also believed that many phones are being tapped. A number of people have been told directly by the Gardai that they are being watched and one man has been told that his ‘number is up’. Garda cars have been parked outside the homes of some of the protestors for hours at a time. One protestor has been told by his employer that if he does not give it up, his job is on the line. Journalists – in both national and local papers - who have been prepared to write accurate accounts of what is happening have been leaned on to stop. Again’ it is not news but worth remembering that the smearing of Frank Connolly by Minister McDowell under cover of Dail privilege followed directly from the publication of his Centre for Public Inquiry’s publication of a damning report on the safety of this same project. It was alleged that Connolly had travelled on a false passport to Columbia in support of illegal IRA activity although no charges have ever been brought against him. Nevertheless, the philanthropist who was funding the CPI withdrew his support following a private audience with Bertie Ahern. These undemocratic methods of suppressing information and silencing objection are becoming increasingly blatant in Ireland and it is time, surely, for the Irish people to signal that they are no longer willing to submit to this treatment.

The issue is not just about the Corrib gas field, it is about all of the oil and gas finds off the west coast and the manner in which these finds will be got ashore. It is imperative that the foreign corporates involved are made to conduct their drilling and extraction in a way that will not damage significant parts of the west coast. Bear in mind that none of these companies would be allowed to do to the coast of the USA what they are being encouraged to do by our present government in Ireland. The Dunquin field alone, the licence for which was recently sold at a huge profit by Sir Anthony O’ Reilly to Exxon Mobil, is estimated to be worth Euro 500billion, of which he retains a 16% share – an accrual of personal wealth which dwarfs his entire business empire to date. The northern tip of the Slyne field – well number 27/5-1, is thought to be the most lucrative find of all – a massive oil field lies there said to be worth trillions. How is all this to be got ashore?

The Shell to Sea campaign is not about preventing the mining of gas in the Corrib field, it is about ensuring that it is done safely at sea so as neither to put the local community in danger nor to damage the countryside. This will cost Shell more, but only a fraction of the profit which would be made and the same principle needs to be applied to all of the other projects off our coastline.

It has also been alleged that the reason exploration licences were issued on such disadvantageous terms is that the fields off the west coast are difficult and dangerous to drill. Not so. In comparison to drilling taking place in the Shenzi field off the Louisiana coast, to give just one example, where the ocean goes to a depth of 7K feet and the well itself to a depth of 27K feet - drilling in the Corrib field, where the sea is just 200 meters deep, is the industry equivalent of ‘taking sand off a beach with a spade’. One Statoil representative has admitted, at an EPA oral hearing, that there is no technical difficulty or obstacle involved in mining the fields – the geological environment poses no problem beyond what is entirely normal.

And yet extreme technical difficulty is the reason cited for the undoing of established state policy which would have secured a 40/60 split between the Irish state and the drilling companies, respectively. The scale of the mismanagement involved might be partly explained by the fact that the Irish government appointed as its adviser a Mr David Fox, a man whose day job was advising exploration companies on how to secure the best possible terms from governments. As conflicts of interest go, this one is a real stinker. To this very day, no cost-benefit analysis for the state has been done by the Irish government for any of these multi-billion dollar projects.

In planning to push the commencement of building of the refinery through, it’s clear that a strategy had been devised in advance to intimidate the objectors and to ensure that media coverage was sympathetic to the commercial interests involved. Shell had lost the argument and were looking nasty having sent five people to jail. The hostile and inaccurate reporting from most of the media which accompanied the Garda action is hardly a coincidence. RTE coverage has been strikingly biased at times. For example, coverage of the press conference at Bellanaboy last Monday, at which five elected TDs were intimidated at close quarters by Garda filming – even while being filmed themselves by our national broadcaster – was atrociously unrepresentative of the actual event.

The shocking revelation by a local business man that he had been offered 15K Euro to support the Shell project and told that nobody would have to know anything about it, should have been at the top of the RTE news coverage and front page headline news in every national newspaper the following day. Instead it has passed by with barely a murmur. Ciaran Murphy, a former army officer and member of the Air Corp, stressed that this was the means by which Shell were attempting to divide the local community – with secret bribes. What additional pressures will have been brought to bear on the media? It is highly unlikely that Shell have been idle in that direction - or are the likes of Paul Williams only too pleased to prostitute themselves to foreign corporates at the expense of his fellow Irish citizens? Kevin Myers has long since descended into a complete parody of the ranting buffoon that he is, but he excelled even himself in recommending a baton charge in Bellanaboy. And what, as ever, about the newspapers owned by Sir Anthony? ‘Independent’? Hardly, as we are all so weary from pointing out.

Aware perhaps of the damage that Ciaran Murphy’s testimony could do to their scheme, Minister Noel Dempsey went about some negative spinning later that day to the effect that the Shell to Sea campaign had proved more difficult to bring to mediation than Gerry Adams and Ian Paisely – a distortion of the truth and a comparison that seems calculated to resonate with the past violence of the Northern Irish situation. In fact, this appears to be the favoured smearing theme of the Shell/government agenda. Shell to Sea have also been accused of being hijacked by Provo sympathisers – a completely unfounded accusation. Shell to Sea have met seven times with the government appointed mediator, Mr Cassells, despite their misgivings about the severely limited terms of that mediation. The central safety concerns have not been adequately addressed – despite the claims of government and Shell to the contrary and the relatively minor concessions that they were forced to make previously. This tactic of offering essentially false mediation in these situations is a well-worn one, whose only objective is to paint the objectors into a corner where they appear unreasonable. Now we have also heard from Minister Dempsey that he and others have received death threats. Frankly, that claim is simply not credible if it is being suggested that Shell to Sea are responsible. The only violence in this situation has been the violence dealt to the protestors – not the other way around.

At one of the regular Shell to Sea meetings held last Sunday night it was a striking experience to witness how composed and constructive local people were in the face of the physical and media violence that is now being done to them and their community. They are adamant that they will do nothing to discredit themselves and are understandably offended at what Shell and the government are now doing and also at how they are being portrayed in the media.

Will Shell to Sea in Mayo re-invigorate the democratic process or will it be the death knell of all future civil involvement in the management of our natural resources and amenities? The exploration and other companies have only one simple point to take on board: that they must conduct their business without endangering or destroying local communities. They have simply to invest what would be a tiny fraction of their profit (even at a couple of billion dollars) to secure the harmonious outcome that Shell to Sea and the people of County Mayo are anxious to see. If our government have conducted themselves foolishly in this matter, let the people of Ireland show these circling corporate sharks that we will be treated with the respect we deserve, after all.

For more information about Shell to Sea, visit their website at this link:


author by hedgehogpublication date Fri Oct 20, 2006 15:00author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Miriam is correct. What is going on in Erris is more than just a local community issue. It is symbolic of what amounts to the Hi-jacking of our democracy by vested interests with the co-operation of our elected representatives, police force and the collaboration of the media. If this one is lost, what hope for the future?

Lets all get behind shell To Sea and show that the Irish people will not lie down and hand over their hard won democracy without a hell of a fight. The English are no longer the real enemies of Ireland. Big Business is. That is Global. Corporations like Shell and Halliburton are taking a keen interest in and are active in Ireland today.

a couple of examples:

Triad in hospital privatisation

note halliburton's involvement here

And here. They are also known as "brown and root" previously "kellog, brown and root"

It's exactly as james connolly predicted. All that changed was the accents of the capitalists and the landlords. And some of the accents are taking on a new american inflection lately.

Read the words of this true Irishman here.
I wonder what he would make of the sad state of Ireland today.
I'm certain he would be heading down to Erris!

It is worth watching the movie "the corporation" for some perspective.

author by newstartpublication date Sat Oct 21, 2006 11:47author address author phone Report this post to the editors

The only part of the S2S campaign I am against is the policy of "non-violent direct action", where "violence" is taken to include any kind of confrontation, property damage, or self-defence.
This implies a faith that Shell, the police, the government and so on will eventually 'see sense' and support the people of Erris (and Ireland) against business interests. This never happens.
A policy of non-'violence' (or action which does not cause signifigant financial damage) is not going to STOP the Shell 'development', it will just hold it back for a time. As we are seeing, the media, the police and even the public, are not being won over by the campaigns strict adherance to non-violence. Meanwhile the police, and Shell, are entitled to use their own violence. This isn't a fair society, and there's no point expecting them to play fair. The only hope as I see it for stopping this attack on Erris is to disable their machinery.
Solidarity to S2S

author by m.m.mccarron - o.s.i.publication date Sat Oct 21, 2006 12:04author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Thank you for a well timed and rational presentation.
The Eleventh Ken Saro- Wiwa Memorial Seminar takes place in Boole Building Lecture Room 3 between 10am and 4.00 pm on Saturday 11 November 2006. It took place in Geesala, Mayo in 2001 and provided a platform for the first critical questions about the Corrib Gas Project. It also took place in Mayo in 2005 and the Tenth Anniversaty was celebrated in style in Glenamoy last year. It has taken place in Derry, Dublin...indeed anywhere there are dissatisfactions and so Cork was chosen.
Maura Harrington will open the Seminar and there will be a memorial hour . At 11.30 am Mark Garavan will talk to The Politics of Moral Force- Michael Davitt and Ken Saro- Wiwa. At 2.30pm there will be a Solidarity Forum for two hours giving space for local and national and international campaigns to speak to their issues so building the solidarity your letter seeks.
The space is open and we have invited a small number of campaigns to start off the discussion. It willl be facilitated by Joe Murray of Afri which is also supporting the seminar which is non- funded and volunteer-led as it has been for the last several years. Please feel invited to fill the space by encouraging groups and individuals to attend.
The dedicated space to contemporary issues is our memorial tribute to Ken Saro-Wiwa hanged with 8 others for defending his community against multinational Shell 11 years ago.

author by W. Finnerty.publication date Sat Oct 21, 2006 13:46author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I'm really pleased to see articles of this kind appearing on Indymedia (Ireland), especially with a general election now due within months in the Republic of Ireland.

One reason I'm really glad is because experience has taught me that democracy can only work in a socially just and benign way if the voters are well informed; and, if things are left to the media-barons and state-broadcasters alone, all that will happen is that voters will be thoroughly misinformed in highly imbalanced ways (yet again!). And, the gross deception in question will be carried out with such cunning and skill, that the vast majority of the victims will not even be aware of it. ("They'd build a nest in your ear and rob it: without you ever knowing a single thing about it" - a warning I first heard of as a child in County Galway.)

Also, and allowing for my personal experiences with him, I would not wish to make any secret of the fact that one of my big hopes for the next general election is that the present Minister for Justice (Mr Michael McDowell TD) will lose his seat in Dail Eireann, and consequently his key position in the Government as well.

The more I learn about Justice Minister McDowell, including the personal attitudes some of his public comments appear to represent, the more I suspect he may be a carefully chosen and well groomed "plant" of the "Bilderberg & Close Associates Group", who they want (and possibly desperately need) to hold a key position in the "public domain" wing of Republic of Ireland politics. Having due regard for all the VAST "gas and oil" wealth around Ireland's shores that is at present being talked and written about, I personally would not be in the slightest surprised if the next planned job in the "Bilderberg" pipeline for Mr McDowell is that of Prime Minister.

The fact that Justice Minister McDowell is an experienced lawyer, who has in-depth knowledge of how things are done in the Four Courts (location of the Republic of Ireland's Supreme Court, High Court, and Central Criminal Court), must surely add significantly to his prospects for further "Bilderberg" type promotion?

While accepting that I might be wrong, all of the evidence available to me appears to suggest that things such as human rights law, and the basic law of SOVERIGN states (including large sections of that relating to Bunreacht na hEireann), are all repugnant to Minister for Justice McDowell. Such things get seriously in the way of the planned "New World Order" the Illuminati wish to force-feed and bully everyone, on a global basis, into accepting it seems - or so these two particular areas of law appear to the bulk of their membership at least?

It looks to me as though the vast majority of "Illuminati Group" membership have decided that there will be just "one size to fit all", and that's it (i.e. the size we prescribe) - or else!!

Further information relating to the origins of my "Bilderberg" suspicions relating to Justice Minister McDowell TD can be found at the following location:

Related Link: http://www.europeancourtofhumanrightswilliamfinnerty.com/
author by Rose of Traleepublication date Sat Oct 21, 2006 15:20author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Could there be any truth I wonder in a little notion I've just had that "Bilderberg Man" might be a version of "Neanderthal Man" - which has somehow adapted itself to look "human", and then surreptitiously "slipped through" without the scientific community yet spotting it?

A form of "being" that can look and sound like an "ideal" human being to many - as and when it wishes - but which in fact thrives on socially destructive activities such as lies and contrived deceptions of all kinds, together with every conceivable form of corruption it can think of: all hatched and delivered in largely undetected ways from "behind the scenes"?

Assuming it actually exists, it looks to me as though an unusually large proportion of this troublesome species may have learned how to get legal qualifications as well, which they use to get senior positions within the legal system?

Many of their membership are strongly drawn to careers in politics as well maybe?

Just a thought, which I feel I might usefully share here - particularly as it seems to me that the leaders of this new type of "Neanderthal Man" species my mind is at present conjuring up images of might well be on their way to taking over just about everything that is going on in the world of human affairs?

Related Link: http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&lr=&q=Neantherdal+Man&btnG=Search
author by ain't necessarily so...publication date Sat Oct 21, 2006 15:50author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Neanderthal man needs media like O2- he has developed the structures to suit his
purposes but the rags are getting tawdry and we all can see daylight through them.

The question is why the media loves him- the power he assumes he has is
based on his ability to manipulate the mainstream-who it appears are caught
up in the dazzle and flash, helped I am sure by the preponderance of 50 euro
notes impregnated with coke that inspire them so much. It's sheer laziness.

Mr Neanderthal Numero Uno is trying to change statute to do away with the right
to silence right now.

The mainstream media do not question their leaders- who I can tell you are
full of shit and build their campaigns on a mixture of divide and conquer,
bullying , usage and lies.

* Mr Mc Dowell is after all Numero Uno.
Most people ignore the shite posturing unless they access the power they crave so completely.

author by bogboypublication date Sun Oct 22, 2006 21:43author address author phone Report this post to the editors

From what I understand out of approx 21 land owners only 5 objected to the pipeline.
We never heard from the Rossport 16 who approved. Ireland relies heavily on gas imports and the corrib field could offer relief from this dependency. The name of the company that brings the gas onshore is irrelevant whether it be Dell or Shell. Truth is a majority of people want to see this gas field developed. Unfourtunatly they remain silent.

author by info service for dummiespublication date Mon Oct 23, 2006 02:03author address author phone Report this post to the editors

"From what I understand out of approx 21 land owners only 5 objected to the pipeline."

The Rossport Five were the five men who refused to give an undertaking that they would not protest against the refinery and pipeline scheme and were prosecuted for this. Many people in the area objected to Shell, although obviously not everyone was prepared to go to prison. Some landowners accepted the scheme under duress, since they felt they had no choice. The protests have shown that they do have a choice, and now there are only a very few people in the area who are not agaisnt the pipeline and refinery.

Of course they have an entitlement to this view, but they are the minority.

The rest of the people of Ireland have never been asked whether it was a good idea to give all of the country's natural resources away and build a dangerous polluting onshore refinery on a bog in the gaeltacht. It would be interesting what their response would be if they were asked. A recent RTÉ survey found a clear majority in Mayo favoured the gas being processed offshore.

"Ireland relies heavily on gas imports and the corrib field could offer relief from this dependency."

The Corrib field gas will be owned by Shell and the other partners in the scheme, and since Bord Gáis is not involved, there will be no benefit either in terms of security of supply or gas prices for consumers in this country. If you don't believe me ask Bord Gáis.

"The name of the company that brings the gas onshore is irrelevant whether it be Dell or Shell."

Shell seem to have a very strong company ethos which puts shareholders' profit before everything else, including people's lives. I don't think Dell traded with the South African government during aparthied times, or has been implicated in the hanging of any Ogoni people. Of course Dell is a much younger company...

"Truth is a majority of people want to see this gas field developed. Unfortunately they remain silent."

The Shell to Sea campaign are included amongst those who wish to see the field developed. But developed safely, and with some benefit to the people of Ireland. It's Shell who are insisting on an onshore terminal, which is not needed or wanted, and it's the government who insist that the gas should be given away.

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