FINE GAEL leader and Mayo TD Enda Kenny has said "mistakes were made" in the county over the controversial Corrib gas project.
Mr Kenny, who had been largely silent to date about the protracted dispute, told delegates at a business conference in Cork last Friday: "Mistakes were made in Mayo. People's rights were trampled on. Their rights were moved aside."
He was responding to a question from the floor about foreign inward investment, during which he addressed the potential of the renewable energy industry.
Mr Kenny confirmed he had made the comments but insisted he was "referring to the early years of the project when it was being developed by Enterprise Energy Ireland". Shell subsequently bought the field in 2002 for a reported €7 billion.
"My view was clear from the beginning. I always said the Corrib field should be harvested, with due regard to the highest standards of safety and the environment," Mr Kenny said.
"I respect An Bord Pleanála's recent decision. It is an independent and competent body that is removed from any influence. They have made their decision and now Shell has to respond to that," he continued.
The board has ruled that almost half of the new route was "unacceptable" on safety grounds.
"Six years ago, I did say put the pipe up the bay ," Mr Kenny said.