People: Distraught Ballinaboy residents issue heartfelt appeal to Shell: "We are
upset and dismayed that there are five Erris men in Clover Hill prison because
of the Corrib gas project.": Posted Thursday 8 Sept 2005
SIR Ė Over the past number of weeks your paper has been covering the Shell Rossport five story and now I believe is the appropriate time to put the feelings and views of the Ballinaboy/Leenamore residents on paper.
We are upset and dismayed that there are five Erris men in Clover Hill prison because of the Corrib gas project. Those men and their families felt this was the only option left to them because no one in authority or within Shell were taking their concerns seriously sadly their words were falling on deaf ears. The Ballinaboy/Leenamore residents respect the decision taken by those five men. Whatís upsetting us most is that we know if the support that is here now was there for us when we were going through the planning process and the oral hearings we would not have this sad situation in the heart of our community today.
Over the past five years we have been criticised, ridiculed and verbally abused because of our objections to the building of the Corrib gas refinery on our doorstep, and indeed we are still being criticised today by some people in our community because we are not at the front of this present campaign. I would like to remind those people with short memories that we fought this battle once and won (with no support from them) we objected to the second application by Shell (by the way which was encouraged and welcomed by a gathering of eight hundred people in Belmullet) unfortunately we lost the second battle and we were not in financial situation to take the fight to the High Court and indeed at that time if we were millionaires we were so demoralised by the whole process we were not mentally or physically able to do so. At that stage we accepted the decision of An Bord Pleanala, accepting this decision did not mean we were happy with the refinery but we had to live and life goes on. The views of the residents at that stage was if Shell get in here whatever jobs or gains from this project should go to the residents and the surrounding community. We make no apologies for any decisions weíve made or our views regarding this project.
I am not writing this letter looking for sympathy. I am writing this letter because there are things that need telling to the parties involved in this current situation we find ourselves in regarding Corrib.
To Shell: We the Ballinaboy / Leenamore residents are reminding you that you have been treated with respect, courtesy and dignity by us at all times, yes we have had numerous disagreements and arguments but those were resolved by rational and reasonable people on both sides. Sadly now as parents with young children we are left trying to explain to them why Shell our proposed neighbours have put five of our Rossport neighbours in jail. Our little children are coming to us asking us are they going to put you and Daddy in jail next. Neighbours to our children mean the good decent people living beside them since they were born, people who would not do anything to hurt or harm them or anyone else. Now those of you within Shell who are fathers, mothers, wives and husbands tell me how I reassure my children that you are not the heartless monsters everyone says you are and that our children see you as because you have put other fathers in jail. Shell, you yourselves are the only ones that can reassure us and our children that you are not monsters and the only way to do this is by withdrawing the injunction youíve placed on the heads of the Rossport Five, you may say you have suspended all work and this creates the perfect opportunity for the five men to purge their contempt and come home while some people may agree with you let me tell you it is the will of the Rossport five, their families and indeed the will of the Erris people that you lift the injunction. I admit that it may not be the will of everyone in Erris that this project goes to sea I firmly believe that it is the will of the entire region that you withdraw the injunction it is the only way forward if you are serious about wanting dialogue with the five men and their families. If you donít lift the injunction there will never be nay dialogue I am appealing to the good people within Shell (Yes there are good people believe it or not) to make sure the injunction is withdrawn so I can tell my children that Shell have set those fathers free and they need not be terrified of living beside you should this project go ahead. Shell you were told by us many months ago that those men would go to jail we asked you not to allow this happen, you would not listen yet your project has suffered because of your deaf ears you have only yourselves to blame, now you must swallow your pride and show us the respect that we deserve by withdrawing your injunction, it is the only way you will gain credibility in this community, the community you have destroyed. If you are not going to adhere to the will of the Erris people we deserve an honest explanation as to why you cannot lift the injunction. Is it because you are afraid of being sued or upsetting the judiciary, there are five men in jail but we have all been imprisoned, do the decent neighbourly thing and lift the injunction of all our heads and allow us to return to some normality, you owe us this and you owe it to the Rossport wives who have hurt and agony visibly engraved in their faces due to your actions. Your injunction is serving no purpose now there is around a few hundred people breaking it every day there is no reason why you canít stand it down. We await your response.
To the politicians: We say that you were never there for us with the exception of Michael Ring, a true gentleman. We are asking you to come out and demand Shell withdraw the injunction. The residents are not asking you Shout Shell to sea, that is entirely up to yourselves, but you have a duty to do everything within your power to get those men out of jail, the men are telling you lift the injunction and we will purge contempt, please listen to what they are saying, it is the only way forward, after all you played a major role in ripping this community apart it is now your responsibility to undo the damage you have done.
Minister Dempsey you have our sympathy, Frank Fahy conceived and carried this baby and you have been left with the pains of delivery. A week ago we had some hope that you would deliver the baby in a safe and healthy manner but after last weekends revelations regarding the review consultants your delivery was premature and our glimmer of hope was dashed once again.
To the people of Erris, Businesses, The Erris chamber of commerce etc. and to the people of our county: The Ballinaboy/Leenamore residents have never intimidated anyone concerning the Corrib gas project. We havenít boycotted any of your businessís neither have we begrudged you any money you made from this project this is why we are now asking you have the courage to support us in our demand to Shell to lift the injunction of the Rossport Five. Those men in various ways have supported your businesses over the years, we are not asking you to shout shell to sea, your vies on that will be respected by the residents we are merely asking you to demand that our people be set free as we are sure you must see this is the only way forward. We now realise that there is a section of your community ripped apart and swimming in a sea of turmoil about to drown, your help is badly needed in getting this community living together in peace again, demand Shell lift the injunction so this process can begin (one for all and all for one).
Finally regarding the Shell to Sea campaign it would be great to see the terminal going to sea and it has always been the hope and desire of the Ballinaboy/Leenamore residents that the Corrib gas be refined at sea. The reality of it is we are asking God if needs be to grant us the serenity and courage to accept the things we cannot changeÖ
Mise le Meas
On behalf of the
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