LETTERS FROM more than 400 residents of a north Mayo parish who claim that they are being subjected to “ongoing and escalating physical and psychological harassment” have been delivered to Shell EP Ireland.
The 409 signed letters were presented by community representatives yesterday to Shell’s offices in Belmullet, Co Mayo.
The lead Corrib gas developer is still working on a response to An Bord Pleanála in relation to its controversial onshore pipeline route, and has applied to the Department of the Environment for a foreshore licence to conduct further investigative work to this end.
Glengad resident Eamon Ó Murchú, who co-ordinated the delivery of letters with Inver resident Terence Conway, told The Irish Times that the correspondence reflected the depth of feeling in the area about the project.
“The letters were signed by people living all over Kilcommon parish, from Glengad to Pollathomas and Rossport – and from six people outside it,” he said.
“Some are Shell to Sea and some are Pobal Chill Chomáin supporters and some are not aligned to any group. We didn’t canvass every one of the 2,000 residents in the parish. People approached us after we held a public meeting on the issue recently in Inver,” Mr Ó Murchú said.
The community meeting in Inver on March 19th last debated Shell’s recent invitation to residents to engage in “face-to-face” or “small group” meetings in relation to the onshore pipeline route.
Mr Ó Murchú said that those attending the meeting agreed they would not meet company representatives while Porturlin fisherman Pat O’Donnell is still in prison. O’Donnell is serving a seven-month sentence in Castlerea prison for Corrib gas protest-related offences.
In the letters, residents state that they object to being “bombarded by Shell’s propaganda”.
The residents single out for criticism the content of a recently published Corrib gas project community update, which includes a “feedback form”. The residents say that “seeking opinions on the Corrib project from those who live outside the danger zone is simply dishonest”. They also say they believe that returned forms would be “misused as a statistic in future promotional propaganda”.
“Despite An Bord Pleanála recently declaring the project unsafe, the [Corrib gas project] leaflet tries to gloss over the potential danger to local residents,” the letters state. “The latest plan seems to be to tunnel the gas pipe under Rossport strand, close to the national school in Pollathomas, even though Shell and their consultants had already ruled out this route.”
The company has until May 31st to respond to An Bord Pleanála, following the board’s direction last year that the current proposed pipeline route is “unacceptable” on safety grounds due to proximity to housing.
Shell EP Ireland was unavailable for comment yesterday.