Jailing of Maura Harrington


Madam, – The title of Peter Murtagh’s article “The half-truths behind Corrib gas controversy” (Opinion, March 16th) looked promising, suggesting that it would reveal the core issues behind the dispute.

In these times of economic hardship, I expected Mr Murtagh would examine some of the principal questions, such as: “Why is the Government giving away a gas field worth an estimated €9.5 billion for practically nothing? Why is the Government being so generous to Shell – a multinational oil company with a despicable record on pollution and human rights and which recently reported profits of $31.4 billion – while imposing severe cuts and tax rises on its own Irish citizens.

The Government’s generosity does not stop there: Shell’s project costs are going to be written off against Irish taxes and we are even going to buy back our own gas at its full market value. Furthermore, we are going to save Shell millions by not asking it to refine the gas at sea, as is the normal practice in other countries. Instead we will allow Shell to build a huge onshore refinery and run a high-pressure raw gas pipeline close to people’s homes and through one of the most beautiful and unspoilt regions of our country. To top it all, the Government is footing the policing bill, circa €15 million to date, to force through the project against the community’s consent. Imagine how much good these millions of euro could do in creating employment.

By facilitating the give-away of our national resources while imposing cutbacks and tax rises on its own citizens, the Government is giving the Irish people a slap on the face. If we allow this nonsense to continue, we are all in need of “psychiatric assessment.” These are the truths, no matter how Shell’s spin-doctors want us to forget them.

Mr Murtagh’s article steers well clear of these issues and instead tries to blacken the character of Maura Harrington and the Shell to Sea campaign. He would do well to familiarise himself with another of Mr Churchill’s quotations: “The truth is incontrovertible. Malice may attack it, ignorance may deride it, but in the end; there is it. – Yours, etc,


South Circular Road,

Dublin 8.

Last December Ireland celebrated the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, even though Ireland never signed the declaration. The anniversary offered us “an opportunity to renew our commitment to securing the declaration’s promise of dignity and justice for all”, in the words of Micheál Martin, Minister for Foreign Affairs (The Irish Times, December 10th). Yet, in all the lofty praise heaped on the declaration in the commemorative Irish Times supplement sponsored by his Department (December 9th), not one writer addressed the issues of the human rights to a healthy environment, to natural resources, and to enjoy one’s culture.

Admittedly, these rights themselves are in the early stages of development, but that is exactly what makes their understanding and exercise a matter of such great public interest. The Universal Declaration stands not only for the idea that all citizens have fundamental rights, but it has also been agreed to mean that all human rights are themselves equal.– Yours, etc,



Mary’s Abbey,

Dublin 7.

A chara, – Lelia Doolan describes the behaviour of Maura Harrington as “civil disobedience”, and in a sort of mitigation calls such behaviour “awkward and inconvenient”. No more than Senator David Norris, Ms Doolan might have acknowledged that Ms Harrington was convicted of breaches of the criminal law, and the judge was entitled to make such observations as she wished, having looked at all the facts, including previous record, attitude, and so on.

Of course Ms Doolan is too far removed from the scene to know the true facts, including that over 1,000 people are now happy to work on this project, the majority of them from the locality.

Mr Murtagh’s timely opinion piece was informed and spot on. – Is mise,



Co. Mayo