Calm urged by both sides in Corrib pipeline dispute

 

SHELL EP Ireland and Erris community groups have called for "calm" following the discovery of an explosive device on the steps of the Shell headquarters in Dublin on Monday.

Two Erris community groups which have proposed a compromise location for the Corrib gas refinery have issued a joint statement "unreservedly" and "totally" condemning the placing of a device which was detonated by the Army's bomb disposal squad in Leeson Street, Dublin, on Monday night.

The two groups, Pobal Chill Chomáin and Pobal le Chéile, have described it as an "appalling action", while Pobal Chill Chomáin spokesman John Monaghan has called for an "immediate suspension of activities on every side to allow for a peaceful and diplomatic solution to Corrib that doesn't put lives recklessly in danger".

A senior Garda source said the device comprised a drinks bottle filled with petrol which was attached to a battery and a clock. It was also attached to a can of paint, which would have sprayed out had the device exploded.

But sources said that while all components for a viable device were present, the ensemble was not wired properly and, therefore, could not have exploded.

Gardaí believe the incident was linked to protests surrounding Corrib.

However, the identity of those behind the device is unknown. Mr Monaghan said: "It is time for everyone to take a step back, and for Minister for Energy Eamon Ryan to live up to his responsibilities."

Pobal Chill Chomáin and Pobal le Chéile also said that the time for a solution was now and "it is we who speak for the majority of the residents of the Chill Chomáin parish".

Shell to Sea and the Rossport Solidarity Camp in Mayo have said that the device was "nothing to do with them". A spokesman for both groups, Niall Harnett, said they were "not into the politics of condemnation".

Separately, Dublin Shell to Sea said it rejected completely an "unfounded insinuation" by Shell that the device was "made and placed by Shell to Sea supporters".

The Pro-Erris Gas Group has said that the device was "a further sinister attempt at intimidation and proof, if proof were needed, that this campaign has a large element of subversive activity attached to it, which some sections of the media do not address".

Shell EP Ireland has described the device's placing as a "sinister development" and has said that the work currently being undertaken on the Corrib project has "all the necessary consents and permissions required by the various statutory bodies which oversee the project".

"This is a time for calm assessment," the company's statement said. "We remain open and willing to talk to any individuals or groups who continue to have concerns about our project."

Earlier this week, Labour Party TD Michael D Higgins called on Mr Ryan to provide leadership and respond to the compromise proposal for the gas refinery made by three Erris priests almost a year ago. Mr Ryan was making no comment yesterday, but Green Party Galway councillor Niall Ó Brolchain said it was time for "reflection and dialogue". He said that he had visited the area last week and had "great respect for the local community in Erris".

Shell EP Ireland says it is still assessing the reported damage sustained by the Allseas pipelaying ship, Solitaire, a week ago which led to the vessel's withdrawal to Killybegs, Co Donegal.

Maura Harrington has said that she will not quit her hunger strike, now entering its second week, unless she receives written confirmation that the Solitaire has left Irish territorial waters.

MAIN CAMPAIGN GROUPS

Pro-Erris Gas Group:supports Shell's plans for the Corrib gas refinery, and includes business interests in Mayo. Secretary is retired garda, Brendan Cafferty of Ballina.

Shell to Sea:formed as a national opposition campaign following the jailing of five Mayo men for contempt of court in June 2005. The men, the Rossport Five, were opposed on health and safety grounds to Shell's plans to lay an onshore high pressure pipeline which had been exempted from planning approval and which ran within 70 metres of one of the men's houses.

Pobal Chill Chomáin:was formed earlier this year by key Mayo Shell to Sea supporters to back a compromise plan for the refinery drawn up by three Erris priests from Kilcommon parish. The group undertook a visit to Norway and received support from SAFE, the oil and gas workers' federation, which is critical of Statoil's role in the Corrib project. It has lodged complaints with the OECD and the European Commission. Chaired by Vincent McGrath, one of the Rossport five.

Pobal Le Chéile:a group of business interests in Erris which also backs the compromise proposal for the refinery, chaired by Ciarán Ó Murchú, a former Air Corps pilot running the Coláiste Uisce adventure centre in the Erris gaeltacht.

Rossport Solidarity Camp:was established on land belonging to one of the Rossport Five, Philip McGrath, in 2005, and then moved to Glengad, site for the pipeline's landfall, in spring 2006. The camp was evicted by Mayo County Council last year and agreed to leave the area in January, 2008. It has relocated to a house in Pollathomas, close to Glengad, and has close contacts with Shell to Sea.