Pipeline protestors defiant

The Rossport Five have suspended their involvement in a mediation process with Shell Oil established by the Dublin government.

The mediation process had been established last year, but recent statements by the 26-County Minister for the Marine, Noel Dempsey, have been blamed for their collapse.

In June last year, the Rossport Five were sent to jail for refusing to obey a High Court order not to interfere with construction of the Corrib high-pressure gas pipeline in County Mayo by Shell Ireland. They were eventually released after a nationwide campaign.

Shell’s gas terminal for its Corrib pipeline project is being built on the Bellanaboy site in County Mayo. Concerns continue regarding environmental and safety issues arising from the pipeline.

The activists last week accused the 26-County government of attempting to dilute the process by bringing fringe interest groups to the negotiating table.

“Our agreement to enter into direct talks with Shell was a serious decision,” said a spokesperson. “Shell, after all, were responsible for our jailing. It is with great concern and anger that we discover that Minister Dempsey omitted to tell the Dail and us in October that he had in mind a much wider process that could not warrant the designation mediation.

“Our concern is that the Minister’s real intentions all along have been to obtain a favourable safety report from Advantica, complete a bizarre form of mediation and then announce to the public the continuation of the Corrib gas project whatever the cost. Subjugation not mediation!

“We call on the restoration of proper mediation where both sides work together, confidentially and without reporting to a third party, to reach agreement.

“We call on Minister Dempsey to cease interfering with and re-defining the process agreed by Shell and ourselves.

“Finally, we call on Mr Cassells to defend the integrity of the mediation process from this political interference.”

After Shell revealed record-breaking profits last week, Rossport residents told the multi-national oil corporation they will not be bought.

Shell to Sea campaigner, Maura Harrington, said the people of Rossport would continue their fight in 2006 as the world watches on.

“We had a visitor from the Niger Delta region of Nigeria last weekend and we were speaking at the same event. He said that the people of the delta, who have faced the same problems as ourselves, are watching us and we really can’t afford to lose, because if we do it’s quite simply the end for those people. We are supposed to be a developed-world country and if the big corporations succeed here there is little hope for those in the developing world.

“We are determined they aren’t going to get away with this. Our determination now is greater than it ever was. Shell have given up trying to be disingenuous, they just tell straight lies now. They never could understand the mindset of the people, which evolves from the place to which the people belong. They haven’t the faintest idea where we are coming from and where we are going. One thing is for sure, all the money they have isn’t enough to buy Rossport.”

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© 2006 Irish Republican News