80 days since five sincere men of principle were jailed by Shell

FROM OUR SHELL NEWS ARCHIVE: ON THIS DAY IN 2005

Irish Times: Shell denies fears over loss of consents

“It is 80 days since five sincere men of principle were jailed by Shell. Talks, not imprisonments, will resolve this impasse that has exposed the unhealthy state of our democracy.”

Posted Sunday 18 Sept 2005

Lorna Siggins, Marine Correspondent

Shell E&P Ireland has denied fears of losing ministerial consents for the 900 million gas project if it lifts the injunction against five Mayo men in prison over opposition to the onshore gas pipeline.

However, the company has issued a plea to the men in prison to “consider their position”, following its first formal offer to them this week of mediation without any preconditions.

The men have agreed to formal mediation, but their solicitor, Padraic Ferry, said yesterday this could only take place if the injunction was lifted, as otherwise the men would be under duress.

The company said its position on the injunction remained unchanged and expressed disappointment yesterday at the men’s response. However, it said it was “willing to consider other proposals from them [the five men] in regard to how dialogue can be opened”.

Dr Mark Garavan of the Shell to Sea campaign welcomed the agreement to direct dialogue as “very significant”, but said the legal consensus shared by the men’s solicitors and by Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny and Labour Party leader Pat Rabbitte was that the company could vacate its injunction without prejudice.

“Given this legal position, we wonder are there other factors at play in relation to Shell’s decision,” Dr Garavan said.

After the men’s imprisonment on June 29th, solicitor Greg Casey, who represents two other parties named in the injunction secured by Shell, argued in the High Court that Shell had secured its interlocutory injunction of April 4th last on a false premise as the wording referred to “installation”.

Minister for the Marine Noel Dempsey told the Dail on June 30th, the day after the men’s jailing, that he had not agreed to installation of the pipeline at this point. The company was subsequently found to be in breach of one of its consents.

A spokesman for Shell said he was not aware the company had any such concerns in relation to the impact on ministerial consents if the injunction was withdrawn. Its primary concern related to delays to the project involved in the “longer court process”.

It was also concerned about the fact that its injunction referred to a wider group than the five men in prison. The company said following its decision to cease all works on the pipeline, it undertook wide-ranging consultation with local stakeholders.

“Feedback from that consultation process indicated that direct discussion represents the most appropriate way to resolve the current impasse.

“We recognise at this time that there is widespread concern at the continued imprisonment of the men. We will re-examine, together with our advisers, all remaining viable options to break this deadlock.” it said.

In a statement issued on behalf of the Shell to Sea campaign yesterday evening, Dr Garavan said: “It is 80 days since five sincere men of principle were jailed by Shell. Talks, not imprisonments, will resolve this impasse that has exposed the unhealthy state of our democracy.

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