New effort on Corrib gas awaited after talks breakdown


TWO GOVERNMENT Ministers involved in trying to resolve the Corrib gas conflict are expected to attempt to continue mediation efforts following the breakdown of direct talks between Shell and Mayo community representatives this week.

Shell EP Ireland has said that it has “nothing to say” on the breakdown, which occurred after five hours of discussions at the offices of Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs Éamon Ó Cuív in Dublin on Monday evening. Pobal Chill Chomáin chairman Vincent McGrath has said that the north Mayo community group’s “door is open”, but that there is no point in continuing discussions “until Shell EP Ireland has something to say to us”.

Mr Ó Cuív, who attended the meeting with Minister for Energy Eamon Ryan and junior minister Seán Power, has acknowledged that there was a “fundamental disagreement” between the two sides.

Mr Ryan has said that the talks, which were the first of their kind, “should have taken place at the start of the project”. He has already said that “undoubted mistakes were made” with the Corrib gas project, including a failure to consult the local community adequately at the outset. Had such consultation taken place then, the project would not have reached the current stage of “chaotic development”, he has said.

Mr Ryan and Mr Ó Cuív have said they intend to continue efforts to renew the dialogue, which represented the first direct talks between Shell and north Mayo community representatives – including three members of the “Rossport Five” – since the five men were jailed in 2005 for 94 days over opposition to the onshore pipeline routing.

The Pro-Gas Mayo group said yesterday that it was “somewhat disappointed, but not totally surprised at the breakdown”.

“What is needed now is to see what, if anything, can be rescued, and for the project to move on,” the group said in a statement.

Separate mediation is still expected to take place involving the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, which has declared as admissible a complaint lodged by Pobal Chill Chomáin.

Shell to Sea activist Maura Harrington, who was imprisoned for 28 days by Judge Mary Devins at Belmullet District Court for an assault on a garda, was released from Mountjoy yesterday and said that she had “put on half a stone”.

Ms Harrington confirmed that she had undergone a psychiatric assessment, as requested by Judge Devins.

“As Judge Devins did not request a report on the assessment, I would question why it was requested in the first place,” Ms Harrington said.

Ms Harrington delivered a press briefing outside Leinster House after her release, and said she believed that on a day when a “penal Budget” was being published, it “beggared belief that the Government was continuing to give Shell a free ride”.

She also questioned why a director of Shell EP Ireland had been signed into the Dáil yesterday. The director, John Egan, was unavailable for comment last night.