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Irish Times: Minister accused of deceit in talks on Corrib gas pipeline

Lorna Siggins, Marine Correspondent
Feb 17, 2006
One of the five Mayo men jailed last year over opposition to the Corrib gas onshore pipeline has accused Minister for the Marine Noel Dempsey of “deceit” over mediation talks with Shell E&P Ireland.
Commenting on the eve of two days of protests in Ireland and Europe over Shell's Corrib project, retired schoolteacher Micheal O SeighIn said the Minister had “either deliberately deceived us in relation to setting up mediation between us and Shell, or he has no idea what mediation is”.
The five men suspended their participation in mediation talks, chaired by former Ictu secretary-general Peter Cassells, several weeks ago after a series of comments by Mr Dempsey.
In a Dail reply on January 25th and a subsequent interview with MidWest Radio on February 1st, the Minister indicated he never intended mediation to be confined to the two parties only.
However, on September 30th last – just hours before the men were released from jail – the Minister told RTE's Morning Ireland he had contacted “both sides” the day before, and “what I've said to them is that we would appoint somebody to mediate between the two of them” and “leave it to that person themselves and the two sides to discuss the format and framework of that”.
Mr Cassells sought a meeting with the five to clarify the situation, while spokesman for the five Dr Mark Garavan called on the Minister for clarification.
Mr O SeighIn told The Irish Times the five men and Shell had entered into mediation “in good faith”, although the men had asked that the Government be involved also.
A spokesman for the Minister said last night Mr Dempsey had referred to the mediator working with “all those concerned” in a press release of September 30th last, and again on October 29th. “What Mr O SeighIn seems to fail to understand is that they are not the only people that have views, concerns and suggestions.”
The mediator had a free hand in his attempt to reach a solution, he added.
Today's pickets in Dublin, Cork, Kerry, Clare and in Scotland, England, Sweden and at Shell headquarters in Holland are being organised by the Rossport Solidarity Camp grouping and the Shell to Sea campaign.

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