Irish Times: FG leader wants TD to apologise for office picket: “The five men in Cloverhill face into their sixth week in prison, with no sign of any breakthrough due to Shell's insistence on building an onshore terminal and its refusal to lift the injunction against north Mayo residents opposed to the onshore pipeline.”: Monday 8 August 2005
Lorna Siggins, Marine Correspondent
Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny has called for an apology from fellow Mayo TD Dr Jerry Cowley (Ind) about a picket of his constituency office over the Corrib gas issue.
Mr Kenny says he holds Dr Cowley "personally responsible" for "the behaviour, attitude and abusive language" towards two of his staff during an eight-hour protest on Friday in Castlebar.
Mr Kenny says he was "compelled for the safety and security" of his office and staff to call the gardaI to remove Dr Cowley "and his supporters" late on Friday.
However, Dr Cowley has said he was present as a "witness" at the picket which was held by two wives of the five Mayo men in Cloverhill Prison and members of the Shell to Sea campaign.
The five were jailed on June 29th after they refused to give undertakings not to obstruct the installation of the high-pressure gas pipeline.
Dr Cowley has urged Mr Kenny to "focus on the real issue, and clarify once and for all" where he stands on the question of Shell refining the Corrib gas on an offshore terminal.
"If Mr Kenny was to focus his energies on this issue, as in the safety of his constituents in relation to the Corrib gas onshore pipeline, this could put pressure on Shell and help to release these five men from jail," Dr Cowley said.
"Mayo County Council is due to meet on this issue on Friday. All of the Mayo Fianna Fail councillors now want Shell to refine this gas at sea, yet Fine Gael is split on it.
"Mr Kenny is not only leader of his party but is also leader of the Opposition, and it is time for people to stop speaking out of both sides of their mouths."
The picket at Mr Kenny's office took place from 2pm on Friday after CaitlIn UI Sheighin and Maureen McGrath, wives of two of the five men in prison, sought a meeting with Mr Kenny.
They were initially informed that Mr Kenny was away on business and would return.
However, they were then informed that he would not be returning, and would not be available to meet them until today.
The five men in Cloverhill face into their sixth week in prison, with no sign of any breakthrough due to Shell's insistence on building an onshore terminal and its refusal to lift the injunction against north Mayo residents opposed to the onshore pipeline.
A high-level technical group to monitor the project, which Minister for the Marine Noel Dempsey had hoped to set up two weeks ago, is not expected to be finalised until this week.
The Minister's department says the group will not now be headed by Tom McManus, but by Bob Hanna, chief technical adviser to the department.
One of the group's first tasks will be to evaluate the applications for the new safety review of the onshore pipeline.
Shell has suspended work on all aspects of the pipeline project, but hopes to resume work on the onshore pipeline once the safety review is published.
Padraig Campbell, of the Campaign for Natural Resources, has criticised the company for "holding a gun to the Minister's head". He has also taken issue with the company's stated reason for deferring work on the offshore pipeline until next year.
The company said the deferral would give time for "public discussion and dialogue".
Mr Campbell said the real reason was the risk of delays to the schedule of the 285m pipe-laying ship Solitaire if there was a blockade by fishermen. He said the ship would run into weather difficulties next month.
The company denies this.
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