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Irish Times: Corrib protesters want ‘all options’ discussed

By: Lorna Siggins, Marine Correspondent, Irish Times
Published: Oct 24, 2006

The Shell to Sea campaign has said it has always been willing to enter into discussions with Shell E&P Ireland on the Corrib gas project if such discussions include all options for the project.

Campaign spokesman Dr Mark Garavan was responding to last weekend’s appeal by Shell E&P Ireland’s deputy managing director Terry Nolan for dialogue, after three weeks of protests near the Corrib gas terminal site in Bellanaboy, Co Mayo.

Up to 100 people continued early morning demonstrations at Bellanaboy bridge yesterday as Shell staff arrived for work at the terminal site, and some 70 gardaI were called in when protesters sat on the road. GardaI said the protesters were lifted away and no arrests were made.

Green Party leader Trevor Sargent is due to visit north Mayo today on a fact-finding mission, in which he intends to try and talk to all parties involved.

Dr Garavan said Shell had so far only been willing to engage in “explanation”, rather than “meaningful discussion”, and there was “no real evidence” that it wanted any change to its plan for the Corrib terminal.

In Saturday’s Irish Times, Mr Nolan said he was “willing to engage with anyone – in particular I appeal to those who have genuine concerns to talk to us”, and said he firmly believed that the local community and Shell “can live together safely and in a mutually beneficial way”.

Mr Nolan also said that the “crux of the problem is mistrust and lack of real dialogue”. Dr Garavan said the absence of conditions of trust were exacerbated by Shell last May, after publication of the Government’s Advantica safety review on the onshore pipeline.

On May 4th last, Shell E&P Ireland managing director Andy Pyle had apologised for last year’s jailing of the five men and told The Irish Times the company was looking at alternative routes for the onshore pipeline.

“Mr Pyle also said that everything was on the table for discussion, speaking to the media in Dublin,” Dr Garavan said. “At the time we said that there was a possibility of a real breakthrough, but said it would be unforgivable if Shell was playing with people’s emotions and engaging in a PR exercise.”

Dr Garavan said: “Within 48 hours, Mr Pyle effectively binned his offer, when he ruled out the offshore option for the terminal in comments to journalists in Castlebar.”

Also, the company had offered to modify the pipeline route after Mr Cassells’s report, but last week it informed the High Court that it did not wish to vacate compulsory acquisition orders for the existing route, Dr Garavan said.

“Ultimately, dialogue has to resolve this, but the conditions of trust are not there, as there is no real evidence that Shell wants change,” he said. “We want the Government to take responsibility, and to direct Shell to reconfigure the project,” he said.

A spokeswoman for Shell E&P Ireland said that Mr Pyle has said he was willing to talk about all options, but the offshore option was “not viable”. The company was not prepared to stop work on the terminal, as had been proposed last week, she added.

Labour Youth said yesterday it condemned “the smear campaign underway in certain sections of the media against the Shell to Sea campaign and demonstrations”. It also called on Shell to process the Corrib gas at sea.

Chairman Graham O Maonaigh said “a number of baseless articles” had attempted to discredit the protests but that these were without foundation, as was the taunt that it was “Provo led”. and its sister non-profit websites,,,,,, and are owned by John Donovan. There is also a Wikipedia feature.

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