Throughout the Corrib gas conflict there have been various offers and attempts at mediation.
Most famously, Minister Noel Dempsey appointed Peter Cassells, a former union activist who had recently worked on a Fianna Fáil by-election campaign which Dempsey had directed. Unsurprisingly, this mediation didn't work out.
Recently the new Minister, Eamon Ryan, has tried to start a "forum" for the various points of view, but many people have criticised the narrow remit of this, pointing out that the forum will not be able to examine the Shell scheme and its impact as a whole.
In this latest move, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development has accepted a complaint from some local people on the health and safety aspects of the scheme. THE OECD is reported to be planning to offer mediation on this part of the project. No mention is made of the deal whereby Shell and the other Corrib partners will realise the full profits of the 8 billion euro gas field, allowing no benefit for the people of Ireland from their own resource.
There is also a risk that the mediation may find that the scheme can go ahead. Nobody from the OECD will have to live near the high pressure pipeline or drink water from the contaminated refinery outflow. Only the people of Erris can give meaningful consent to the scheme, since they will have to live with the consequences.
Saturday, March 7, 2009 IRISH TIMES
OECD to offer mediation in Corrib gas dispute
LORNA SIGGINS, Marine Correspondent
THE ORGANISATION for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) is to offer to mediate between Shell and the north Mayo community over residents’ health and safety concerns about the Corrib gas project.
OECD representatives in the Netherlands and Ireland have made contact with both parties, following confirmation that a complaint lodged by community group Pobal Chill Chomáin is admissible.
The complaint, lodged last year by the north Mayo community group, claims that Corrib gas developers Royal Dutch Shell, Statoil Hydro and Marathon Oil have violated OECD guidelines for multinational companies.
The OECD guidelines comprise voluntary principles and standards for “responsible business conduct” by multinational companies. They are non-binding, but have considerable moral authority in the 30 OECD member states.
The guidelines relate to employment and industrial relations, human rights, environmental issues, information disclosure, combating bribery, consumer interests, science and technology, competition and taxation.
The complaint was lodged with OECD national contact points in both the Netherlands and Ireland, as Royal Dutch Shell has its headquarters in The Hague.
It is the first time that the Irish national contact point of the OECD has handled a complaint at this level. OECD contact points in Norway and Britain have also been notified by the Dutch and Irish representatives.
The OECD intervention has been welcomed as “very significant” by Pobal Chill Chomáin while Shell EP Ireland made no comment. Pobal Chill Chomáin spokesman Vincent McGrath said that such mediation promised to be far more extensive than that offered late last year under “confined” terms of reference by the Government.
“The key issue with this project is that it has to be examined in its totality in relation to its environmental impact, which the Government has failed to do so far,” he said.
To date, the key community groups have not participated directly in the forum established late last year by Minister for Energy Eamon Ryan and Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs Éamon Ó Cuív, due to concerns over the terms of reference. It is understood that direct talks with the Ministers may take place later this month.
The Pobal Chill Chomáin complaint, supported by the peace and justice organisation Afri, specifies chapter five of the OECD guidelines and says the Corrib gas developers failed to “operate in consideration of relevant international agreements, principles, objectives and standards” and to provide the public with “adequate and timely information” on potential impacts.
It says the three companies breached chapter two of the guidelines in failing to comply with human rights, failing to “encourage the local capacity building” and failing to “act in partnership with the local community”.
The community group has also lodged a complaint on the project with the European Commission.
The Corrib gas developers have recently submitted a revised application for an onshore pipeline route to An Bord Pleanála and are also seeking planning permission for a beach valve station at Glengad, along with relevant ministerial consents.
Earlier this week, Shell EP Ireland also applied to Mayo County Council for a further amendment to original planning permission for the gas refinery at Bellanaboy.
The company plans to lay its offshore pipeline linking the well-head to the landfall at Glengad this summer. It had secured agreement with the Erris Inshore Fishermen’s Association last year in relation to discharges into Broadhaven Bay.