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Irish Times: Statoil stations to be picketed: Pickets are to be placed on selected Statoil fuel stations tomorrow as opponents of the proposed Corrib gas pipeline step up their campaign against the project.: Thursday Aug 25, 2005


Tim O'Brien


Pickets are to be placed on selected Statoil fuel stations tomorrow as opponents of the proposed Corrib gas pipeline step up their campaign against the project.


Speaking at a rally in Dublin's ATGWU Hall last night Ms BrId NI SeighIn said the plan was to convince Statoil it should withdraw "from the consortium proposing to pump dangerous, untreated gas along an untested pipeline built on unstable bogland".


Ms NI SeighIn, a daughter of Micheal O SeighIn one of the five men jailed since June 29th last, also said the Shell to Sea campaign was planning a blockade of the Statoil premises in Dublin docks on September 10th.


This would be followed by "the biggest mobilisation possible" outside the Dail on October 1st.


The rally, which was attended by some 200 people, was also addressed by Rory Hearne of the Dublin Shell to Sea campaign, Maura Harrington of the Mayo campaign and Fintan O'Toole of The Irish Times. Pledges of support were also heard from affiliated groups represented at the meeting.


Using a slide show to illustrate the effect of the construction work on the village of Rossport Ms NI SeighIn said an 18-wheel lorry upturned on the roadside and one of three tracked machines sunken to cab level in the local bog, were evidence of the intrusion of the development company. Other slides showed hundreds of people taking part in protests which fellow speaker Maura Harrington said gave "the lie" to propaganda that suggested only a few people were involved.


Ms NI SeighIn showed slides illustrating the path of the proposed pipeline alongside the edge of a local road. She also cited British standards for such pipelines which she insisted recommended pipes be kept a minimum of 170 metres from settlements, and US standards which recommended the pipes be kept 295 metres away from settlements.


She said the area inside these boundaries was defined as the "kill area" in the event of an explosion. The Mayo pipeline she added would be set just 1.2 metres into the ground, running alongside the road.


Fintan O'Toole told the meeting that the terms under which the State was allowing the gas field to be exploited were generous to an unprecedented level.


It was he said acceptable in the 1970s for oil exploration companies to give the State a 50 per cent stake in oil and gas finds. As well as this exploration companies funded the costs and paid regular taxes.


However, he said the current agreement which he said was negotiated by "the disgraced Ray Burke" gave the State no interest in the finds which by right belonged to the Irish people.


On top of this, he said, the exploration companies had been given generous tax rates and all of its costs could be recovered before any tax was payable. There was a lack of backbone he said, which made "politicians become supine within five miles of an oil company representative".


Meanwhile, the five men who were jailed after refusing to give an undertaking to the High Court that they would not interfere with work on the pipeline, were visited in prison by two Mayo councillors yesterday.


Henry Kenny (FG) and Paddy McGuinness (FG) spent over two hours with the men in what was described as a difficult meeting. The pickets outside the Statoil stations will take place between 5pm. and 7pm tomorrow.


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