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The Connaught Telegraph (Ireland): Shell to Sea spokesman takes issue with editorial comment

EXTRACT: What we are currently witnessing in the Corrib gas dispute is a co-ordinated strategy of deception directed at the people of Mayo.


DR. Mark Garavan, spokesman for the Shell to Sea campaign, has taken issue with a front page editorial in last week’s edition of The Connaught Telegraph.

In his response, Dr. Garavan stated: “The central assertion in your front-page editorial was that now that the Rossport Five and the Shell to Sea campaign ‘have won’ they should ‘get off the pitch.’

The logic of this position is that the same political and administrative forces that created the Corrib gas debacle in the first place should now be entrusted with the task of completing the job. In response may I make a number of general points.

The Corrib gas dispute is in no sense ‘won’. Nothing other than cosmetic changes have been made to what is a fundamentally flawed project.

That you and others remain confounded by illusion rather than reality on this essential point indicates precisely why we have the problem in the first place.

What we are currently witnessing in the Corrib gas dispute is a co-ordinated strategy of deception directed at the people of Mayo.

First, the Advantica Report purported to examine the safety of Shell’s production pipeline but it was not, under its terms of reference, permitted to recommend new routes for the pipeline and could not examine alternative development concepts.

Second, the Cassell’s report purported to offer a comprehensive, integrated approach to the problem but it did neither because Cassells expressly chose to exclude from his analysis the development concept being pursued by Shell.

Finally, Shell’s decision to ‘re-route’ the pipeline amounts to little more than minor adjustments within the existing area.

The objective with this strategy is to create the impression that the real
problem with the Corrib gas project has been addressed but, of course, no such thing has occurred.

Contrary to what you imply in your editorial, the Shell to Sea campaign has at all times been focused on Shell’s methodology to process the gas.

This, after all, is what Shell to Sea means – process the gas at sea. The fundamental design flaw in the project has been the decision to process the gas 9 kms inland, something fully recognised for example in The Irish Times editorial of July 29. It is that decision that necessitates the use of production pipelines across populated areas.

To make this dangerous proposal somehow palatable, Cassells makes a number of recommendations in addition to minor pipeline route ‘adjustments’ and the vaguely defined involvement of Bord Gáis.

Cassells proposes that a number of road improvements be made in North Mayo, that some extra short-term jobs be given to Mayo people and that a few additional locals should sit in on a number of monitoring committees.

The pathetic nature of these ‘benefits’ can be measured against the extraordinary value of the Corrib gas project which runs into many billions of euro.


It is a shame to many of us as Mayo people that the political and administrative leadership of this county has found the current Corrib gas project acceptable in any form whatsoever.

The reality of the current project is that gas is being exported through the county with no proposals existing for the supply of gas to Mayo, that most of the support services for the project are located in Killybegs and, above all else, that it is our people who must bear the full risk and health implications of Shell’s proposals.

In the only other gas projects in this country, Kinsale and Tarbert, the gas is either processed offshore or directly on the shoreline.

It is only Mayo that must bear the threat of the inland processing of gas in one of its most pristine environmental areas and culturally rich communities. Your editorial rightly concedes that it is the Rossport Five who have succeeded in securing any benefit out of this project for the county.

Can you not see the sad picture you paint of the very people you want to take charge of this project again? Is it only in Mayo that citizens must go to prison before their concerns even receive token attention?

Have you and those who are once again clamouring for this project to proceed no conception of the real and long-term benefits that would follow from shallow-water offshore processing of the gas?

Are you so easily convinced that short-term jobs and road improvements are of such perceived ‘benefit’ that they blind you to what is being lost and make you indifferent to the health and safety risks imposed on your fellow county people?

Shallow water processing combined with on-shore support services and infrastructure promise vast full-time employment and development prospects.

Where then is the political leadership of this county? Where are those who have the confidence and courage to stand up and say no, that what is being proposed is not good enough?

Is this not after all the county of Davitt, Daly, John Healy, Monsignor Horan? Would any of these find this proposal tolerable?

To paraphrase Yeats, we are no small people. But we have been rendered small by inadequate and limited people in positions of authority who have failed to grasp the real opportunity being offered here.

We can be thankful that so many of the citizens of Mayo have not accepted this shameful abandonment.

That ordinary people in certain villages of this county have had to step onto ‘the pitch’ and pay a high price for respect and integrity tells us all we need to know about the people that you want to be entrusted once again with this project. and its sister non-profit websites,,,,,, and are owned by John Donovan. There is also a Wikipedia feature.

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