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Corrib Gas, People, Forums … and Minister Eamon Ryan.
Monday December 08, 2008 22:51 by Niall Harnett - Shell to Sea / Rossport Solidarity Camp rossportsolidaritycamp at gmail dot com 086 8444966
“I am in blood, stepped in so far that should I wade no more, returning were as tedious as go o'er.” Macbeth.
On Friday 5th December 2008, Ministers Eamon Ryan and Eamon O'Cuiv hosted a 'Forum' at the Broadhaven Bay Hotel, Belmullet, Erris, Co Mayo.
Set in the context of the Shell Corrib Gas Project, what the forum is about or what it's supposed to address is not clear. “It's not a decision making forum”, said the chairman, Joe Brosnan.
Meanwhile, in another room at the same venue, local residents and community activists hosted a parallel forum, the People's Forum, to address what the Ministers' forum will not address … the substantive issues, which are:
Health, Safety & the Environment.
The Great Gas Giveaway.
The People's Forum
Shell and the Irish Government are very worried about the delays in realising the Corrib Gas Project, which arise especially, and most recently, out of successful resistance by local residents and their supporters to off-shore pipelaying which Shell attempted, but failed to achieve, at Glengad in August & September 2008, despite the marshalling of all the forces of the State to their side.
So it appears, from the government's perspective, that some 'initiative' is needed.
A number of weeks ago Ministers Ryan & O'Cuiv announced a new forum to address Corrib Gas issues. However the forum 'initiative' and its terms of reference were announced as a fait accomplis in the media with no communication or consultation with community groups and individuals. The terms were fixed to exclude any revisiting of 'permissions and consents' already granted to Shell, even though Government admits that “mistakes have been made” in relation to the development of Corrib and its history.
Eamon Ryan, the man with the most responsibility for Corrib, in his role as Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, must know as an experienced Green Party politician that prior consultation and participation with the stakeholders is what's required before the setting up of any forum for communication, given that any such 'development' cannot be considered to be 'sustainable' until and unless it satisfies the concerns of the receiving community.
It was a bad start.
And as I understand it after things panned out after the first day, that forum is more about the economic development of Erris and the North West than about anything else.
Obviously, attending the forum was discussed by local residents but decisions were made by those with the most concerns not to attend any forum that paid only lip-service to addressing the substantive issues.
However, it was decided to set up a parallel forum on the same day called the People's Forum, that was open to anyone, and recordable by media.
The People's Forum was well attended by local residents and went on throughout the whole day. The substantive issues were reheard and revisited with some profound contributions from those affected by the Shell Corrib Gas Project. Films were shown of the ongoing resistance to the project and an analysis of some impromptu lunchtime discussions with Minister Ryan led into another session to plan ahead.
The point was well made that the State is in so deep at this stage with the developer that it is almost impossible for it to pull back without creating even more difficulties for itself.
“I am in blood, stepped in so far that should I wade no more, returning were as tedious as go o'er.”. Macbeth.
Consequently, for the ministers to face a real forum is inconceivable to them and the charade of a forum is the window dressing that must take its place.
The People's Forum recommends that if any serious intention is attached to the Ministers' Forum then Shell must be asked to halt work while the forum goes on. Both the People's Forum and the Government Forum will reconvene on January 19th 2009, and the People's Forum will meet sooner again on Saturday 13th December 2008 at Glenamoy, 6pm.
I heard Minister Ryan say to RTE television that the State are constrained by the permissions and consents already granted to Shell, and they can't go back on that. “If you receive planning permission to build a house in a certain place, the authorities can't decide half way through to withdraw that permission”, is an example he used to illustrate his point.
But didn't the minister say just a few weeks ago that “mistakes have been made”?
And didn't he commit, in appealing for votes for his party, that he would not enter government unless a new and independent review of the Corrib Gas Project be established?
But didn't he roll over, when tested, in capitulation to Fianna Fail to agree a programme for government which would mean that he must agree to the development of Corrib in spite of his own reservations, which he must bury along with his integrity, if he had any?
Wouldn't a review of the project have highlighted the mistakes he mentioned recently? And breaches possibly, breaches of law? The same mistakes or breaches he's not prepared to revisit at his own forum that he says is supposed to consider all the issues.
It's double speak. “White man speak with forked tongue”, is what the native Americans said.
To use his own example, you would not be allowed to continue to build a house if mistakes were made in the early stages of preparation at foundation level. A weak foundation will compromise your house and it's the law that you must correct those mistakes before you go on.
The cornerstone foundation for Corrib is the consent of the receiving community. The consents for the development given by the State authorities were obtained by manipulation, corruption and evading consultation with the local community, who were bullied, ignored and beaten back by force by An Garda Síochána when left with no choice but to physically resist.
Eamon Ryan knows that that is no basis for consent or a building block for 'sustainable development'. But it's he who is constrained, by his government, from saying say the words “The State has no right to give any permissions on that basis”. Go on Eamon, say it and be done with it.
Or you must live with the continuing consequences of your actions: Social Division, Environmental Degradation and Pollution, and Economic Treason.
Who are you kidding?
I suppose it's a question of choices and living with yourself and the consequences of your actions. And whether something is simply the right thing … or not. With so much at stake.
I must say I felt sorry for Eamon Ryan watching him talking with people and the media. I saw a man struggling. Struggling to justify his position in the face of the real questions being put to him by the real people. Knowing that he must continue this dishonesty with himself and the people he serves, just to stay in government. Just to stay in government. With a party that has already done such damage to him and his party.
I'd admire him if he conceded the mistake he made in taking up his position as minister. And so would so many. It would just be the right thing to do. To simply resign and say 'No, this isn't right'. For its own rewards, which would be many, including respect for his integrity, because it's not too late.
And there's always the future.
You can always come again Mr Ryan, if you leave this time with your integrity intact, because you reap what you sow.
If you stay … well, that's your choice.
Minister Eamon Ryan trying to justify the ongoing State facilitation of Shell.
Chief Superintendent Tony McNamara & the new District Superintendent Michael Larkin.
Caption: Embedded video Youtube Video