Breakdown of trust appears widespread


THE COMPLAINT filed yesterday with the Garda ombudsman is the latest in a series associated with policing of the Corrib gas project, reflecting what the Front Line human rights defenders organisation has described as a “breakdown of trust”.

That lack of trust now appears to have spread to communities living closest to the new approved pipeline route through the Sruwaddacon estuary, with a number of residents who had not been involved in protests before recently removing road signs associated with the project.

German hostel owner Betty Schult, who has been a long-time opponent, hosted a meeting of concerned residents last Monday.

She says people living along the southern estuary shores feel “under siege” as gardaí and private security escort up to three daily convoys of heavy goods trucks along a country road between the Ballinaboy gas terminal and two work compounds.

New Shell EP Ireland managing director Michael Crothers was appointed late last year to handle this final stage of the project in a reshuffle involving several other key staff. He says the construction will require 705 personnel, with about of 382 of these jobs in Mayo.

Mr Crothers told the Western People last month the project was “by far the most difficult” he had seen in 25 years in the company. It was “used as an example of how things could have been done differently at the outset to avoid the contention and the discomfort and difficulty that was caused in the community”, he said.

Protests continue, involving both residents and activists, with the Rossport solidarity camp, and last week, 19 campaigners, appearing before a special sitting of Belmullet District Court on 80 public-order offence charges.

Shell to Sea spokesman Terence Conway of Inver received two three-month prison sentences, which he is appealing. Suspended prison sentences and fines of over €8,000 were also imposed on other campaigners.