Friday, April 16, 2010

Sligo and the Corrib gas dispute

Next Wednesday (April 21) a deputation from the Sligo Save our Shops (SOS) campaign is set to meet Minister of State at the Department of Communications Energy and Natural Resources Conor Lenihan in Leinster House. The campaign is a combination of a number of various organisations and business interests, including the Sligo Fair Dealers Campaign, Sligo Chamber of Commerce, Sligo Council of Trade Unions, individual business owners and local politicians.

The meeting was arranged by Sligo north/Leitrim Fianna Fáil TD Jimmy Devins and is set to discuss calls by Deputy Devins and the SOS campaign to have gas from the Corrib field piped to Sligo and the north-west.

Deputy Devins, according to the recently published TD's Register of Interests in Leinster House, is a shareholder in Standard Life. Standard Life are one of Shell's biggest shareholders, holding more than 46 million shares.

Deputy Devins' wife is Judge Mary Devins, who has publicly revealed extreme hostility towards campaigners opposed to Shell's pipeline. She has also played a key role in trying to criminalise campaigners and imprisoning key activists like Maura Harrington at crucial times.

When questioned by a journalist on Ocean FM today (Friday) about éirígí's contention that Shell would be the sole beneficiaries of the Corrib gas under current arrangements, Devins' unbelievably said that “I look on any natural resource we have in the country as being for the benefit of all the people”.

Accusing Devins' of hypocrisy and lies, Sligo éirígí activist Gerry Casey said that he had “been a consistent and staunch supporter of the planned pipeline by Shell in north Mayo and of the giveaway by his party of our valuable natural resources to Shell and other private companies at the expense of the Irish people.”

Casey added: “Devins, and Fianna Fáil, are willing to trample all over the human rights of the people through whose community Shell are seeking to construct this highly dangerous pipeline carrying raw unrefined gas. They are also willing to trample over the economic rights of the Irish people, to whom this gas rightfully belongs.”

Casey also called on the Sligo SOS deputation scheduled to meet the Minister on Wednesday to publicly support the campaign by the Rossport community to stop Shell's planned pipeline in north Mayo. He also urged them to publicly support calls for the nationalisation of the Corrib gas.

Casey said: “We would like this deputation to make it crystal clear in a public statement and directly to the Minister that while they would like the gas network extended to this region, that they would not support it happening at the expense of the Rossport community. They must make clear that under no circumstances would it acceptable for businesses in this region to be connected to the gas network under the current situation.”

He added: “As things currently stand, the only people who will profit from the gas coming to the north-west or anywhere else will be shell and their shareholders. Shamefully, Fianna Fáil led administrations have given away the rights to these valuable natural resources, believed to be worth well over 500 billion euro, to private companies like Shell, a company with an appalling human rights and environmental record worldwide. So at a time of mass unemployment, increased poverty, savage cutbacks being imposed on social welfare and pay and on health and education budgets, this state is allowing colossal wealth to be taken from the Irish people by these multi-nationals.”

“éirígí and others opposed to the current planned pipeline and Shell's involvement, are not opposed to this gas being utilised. We have consistently called for the nationalisation of this gas and all our natural resources and using the enormous wealth to tackle poverty, create employment, deliver efficient public, accessible and available to all, and to raise the living standards of all the people on this island. This gas belongs to the people of Ireland, it must be utilised for the people of Ireland. It must not be used to create profits for Shell, or for shareholders like deputy Devins.”

“éirígí have written to the Fair Dealers campaign group and have urged them to take a stand in support of human rights, in support of the community of Rossport who are living under a virtual state of siege and to support the right of the Irish people as a whole to enjoy the benefits and economic prosperity that would come from nationalising the Corrib gas.”

He concluded: “I urge the deputation to issue a public statement declaring their support for this stance before meeting Lenihan. Such a statement would go a long way towards dispelling the genuine fears that many people have that there are people and pressure groups willing to secure gas for Sligo and the north-west by trampling over the rights of the people of north Mayo and the people of this island in general. The right to generate profit for private business at the expense of the human rights, the safety, and the social and economic rights of people is never acceptable.”

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