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Shell's Lackey's In The Media Out In Force Again
national | environment | feature Tuesday July 07, 2009 14:10 by Joe Higgins MEP - Socialist Party info at joehiggins dot eu
The government, official opposition and the media are all towing Shell's line
The sinking of fisherman Pat O Donnel’s boat and the arrival of Shell Oil’s pipe laying ship, The Solitaire, in Broadhaven Bay, Mayo, has brought the Corrib Gas field very much back into the news.
The newspaper of William Martin Murphy - the media tycoon of that era - never lost an opportunity to portray Larkin as the devil incarnate and ‘Larkinism’ as the devil’s philosophy.
‘Socialism is a foreign importation. I know it because I read it in the papers. I also know it to be the case because in every country I have graced with my presence up to the present time, or have heard from, the possessing classes through their organs in the press, and their spokesmen upon the platform have been vociferous and insistent in declaring the foreign origin of Socialism.
Sure enough, recently, when Dublin Bus drivers were forced into industrial action because management short circuited changes without exhausting the usual procedures, sections of the media sought to find ‘militants’ and ‘socialist agitators’ to be at work. Apparently workers do not have the wit to take a stand unless dark forces are manipulating them.
And so, back to the Corrib Gas field and the questions that the media should be asking in the present situation. Why are members of the judiciary so willing to throw the book at those fighting the Shell project as evidenced in the jailing of an activist, Maura Harrington, for a month for an alleged offence that might usually merit a caution? And why should the High Court threaten young fisherman, Jonathan O’Donnell, with indefinite detention unless he effectively gave up his protest against the Shell project? Which big banker or developer has had such threats in another context?
How could an Irish Government hand over an entire quantum of natural gas to a massive multinational corporation with not a cent in royalties extracted for the benefit of public services and the Irish people? And how could this be done without having an independent assessment of the wealth of gas present in this field but instead took the word of the prospecting companies in whose interest it would be to majorly understate the extent of the reserves?
These issues need to be investigated rather than scapegoating those who are protesting against the whole arrangement between the State and Shell Oil. And what about the very real fears for their physical health of local people through whose surroundings the Shell oil pipe would pass? Can anyone say they are being hysterical in view of pipeline ruptures that have occurred with deadly effect in other parts of the world? And are fears for the environment not justified in view of a major payout by Shell related to environmental destruction in the Niger Delta, even if the company denies liability?
Answers to some or all of these questions will come in the future but probably too late to stop the gifting of a fabulous natural resource for nothing to one of the biggest private corporations in the world. Because, instead of tearing up the existing contract, the likelihood is that a Fine Gael/ Labour government would as slavishly adhere to it as the current Fianna Fail/Green Party Coalition.