Mayo News, Ireland: Pipes to be dismantled "Shell are keeping the injunction in place, and they sought the committal of the men on foot of that. I visited two of them last week, and they remain resolute. I was humbled visiting them. Our support on the ground is mushrooming, and daily pickets of Shell and Statoil stations are continuing.": Wednesday 3 August 2005
Report by Shane McGrath
AS THE Government ordered Shell to dismantle sections of the controversial Corrib gas pipeline, political parties were urged to stop ‘kicking to touch’ on the issue by a leading campaigner on behalf of protestors. Mr Mark Garavan of the Shell to Sea group said that too many parties were ‘acting as bystanders’, and said they must inform themselves on details of the planned project. He was speaking in the aftermath of Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources, Noel Dempsey ordering Shell to disassemble sections of the pipeline which had been welded together, without the necessary Ministerial consents to do so. Further, Minister Dempsey is understood to have told the company they will be subject to greater scrutiny, with monitoring to be provided by a ministerial technical group.
Mr Garavan welcomed the decision, but said it raised a number of issues for both the company and the Government. "This raises the issue of Shell’s credibility. It says it has acted in conformity with the consents issued, but this has been proven definitively not true. It also raises questions about the quality of supervision conducted by the Department of Communications, Marine and Natural Resources. There were almost 3,000 metres of pipeline welded, but the Department were not aware of this until it was highlighted in the media. People in Rossport were raising concerns, but the Department were not paying attention."
Citing advice received, Mr Garavan said he understood that once the welding work was undone, the pipes are unusable.
Shell last week acknowledged that a technical breach had occurred. Work on the onshore pipeline has been suspended by the company after Minister Dempsey commissioned a new safety review. Last week, the company announced 91 lay-offs in the construction of the pipeline. Tidway, a sub-contractor of Allseas, is involved with work at a landfall site near Rossport, and laid off 35 workers, while SICIM-Roadbridge let 56 workers go. Shell said both of these decisions were made in light of ongoing protests.
However, Mr Garavan said these were contract employees, and were not permanently employed on the pipeline construction. "We get no joy in people not working, and we don’t want any loss of employment," he said.
He also reiterated Shell to Sea’s belief that the Rossport Five, the men jailed for breaching an injunction granted to Shell preventing obstruction of works on the pipeline, were not in Cloverhill Prison of their own choosing. "Shell are keeping the injunction in place, and they sought the committal of the men on foot of that. I visited two of them last week, and they remain resolute. I was humbled visiting them. Our support on the ground is mushrooming, and daily pickets of Shell and Statoil stations are continuing."
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