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Irish Times: Dempsey under pressure for Corrib gas decision

Lorna Siggins, Marine Correspondent
Feb 13, 2006
Minister for the Marine Noel Dempsey is under pressure from Shell E&P Ireland to award the next stage of consents for the Corrib gas field project, following a report to him by his high level ministerial advisory group.
The Corrib technical advisory group has completed its work on the safety review of the onshore pipeline by Advantica consultants, and has given the Minister recommendations based on its assessment of the consultants' findings.
The draft report by Advantica had recommended reducing the pressure in the onshore pipeline, among a number of measures which have done little to allay fears of residents in Rossport.
The five Mayo men who were jailed for 94 days for contempt of court last year over their opposition to the onshore pipeline, are due to appear in the High Court today to face possible punishment.
That hearing was deferred late last week and may now take place after the Minister has made his decision. A series of protests to mark the reopening of the Rossport solidarity camp has been planned for later this week by the Shell to Sea campaign.
Mark Garavan, spokesman for the five men, said they had no indication as to what form this punishment would take as it was a matter for the president of the High Court. The five men recently suspended participation in the mediation established between Shell and them by Mr Dempsey, following a series of comments made recently by the Minister, including his assertion that he never meant mediation to be confined to the five men and Shell.
The men have said that a clear discrepancy has emerged as a result of Mr Dempsey's comments in relation to the role of the mediator, former Ictu secretary-general Peter Cassells, and have called on Mr Dempsey to stop interfering. They have referred to Mr Dempsey's speech in the Dail on October 4th, 2005 where he referred to “both sides” (the men and Shell) in relation to mediation.
Dr Garavan referred also at the weekend to an interview which the Minister gave to RTE's Morning Ireland on September 30th, which the men heard while still in jail. In that interview, Mr Dempsey referred to having appointed “someone to mediate between the two of them” – as in the two parties, Shell and the imprisoned men.
The Minister said last night that mediation was a matter for Mr Cassells. Mr Cassells has already said he understood mediation to be between Shell and the Rossport five, and also with several other non-consenting landowners.
A “wider consultation” had been taking place separately, he told The Irish Times earlier this month. Mr Cassells has invited the five men to a meeting to clarify the situation.

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