Monday 27 April 2009

OECD to host talk in Dublin on Corrib gas dispute

THE OECD, the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development, is to host talks in Dublin today to try to resolve issues relating to the Corrib gas dispute.

The Corrib gas developers, led by Shell EP Ireland and Mayo community group Pobal Chill Chomáin, including two members of the Rossport five, are to participate in separate discussions with the OECD Dutch and Irish national contact points.

The main aim of the meeting is to discuss a complaint by Pobal Chill Chomáin that the Corrib gas project violates OECD guidelines for multinational companies.

The peace and justice group Afri and a French counterpart non-governmental organisation, Sherpa, facilitated the lodging of the complaint last year, which was deemed by the OECD as “admissible”.

Planned talks by the OECD’s Dutch and Irish representatives were deferred while direct discussions were taking place between Shell and two community groups.

These talks were facilitated by Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Eamon Ryan and Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs Éamon Ó Cuív. They collapsed earlier this month.

In a statement yesterday, Shell EP Ireland said: “We are wholeheartedly engaged with the OECD process. We remain committed to seeking sustainable solutions to any genuine concerns expressed in relation to the Corrib project.”

In related developments, four Mayo groups and Afri have called for an investigation into the alleged assault last week on Rossport farmer Willie Corduff.

Pobal Chill Chomáin and Pobal Le Chéile, Rossport Solidarity Camp and Shell to Sea (Mayo) jointly called on Minister for Justice Dermot Ahern to facilitate an “internationally supervised investigation” into the incident.

Heritage group An Taisce has lodged a complaint with Mayo County Council, claiming the work requires planning permission.

The four Mayo groups described the assault on Mr Corduff as “sinister” and said the community had “now lost total faith in the ability of the Garda Síochána to discharge their duties”.

Mr Corduff had been protesting under a truck at the Corrib gas landfall site at Glengad on Wednesday and early Thursday last and was then taken to hospital after an alleged assault by Shell security. Gardaí have said Mr Corduff was “removed by security” and was taken to hospital as he was “feeling unwell”.

Mr Corduff, who has been released from hospital, said he was very badly bruised.

Gardaí say they are investigating an “incursion” by “armed and masked” men who caused damage and intimidation to Shell security staff on the same night. They say they will investigate any complaint made by any other party.

Afri described Mr Corduff as a “man of honour and integrity” who had won the international Goldman environmental award two years ago. “The situation is now critical, but it appears that only death or serious injury will move the authorities to action,” Afri said.

Former UN assistant secretary general Denis Halliday said he wished to “applaud the courage and commitment to non-violent resistance” shown by Mr Corduff.

He added that “sadly”, the situation in Mayo “raised doubts about the ability and commitment of the Government to find a solution that best serves the interests of all Irish people”.

A spokeswoman for Mr Ryan said it had been informed that the work at Glengad was being carried out “pursuant to a consent” under section 40 of the Gas Act 1976 granted in April 2002. “It is Mayo County Council, in the first instance, that is the relevant planning authority to make a determination.”

Shell EP Ireland has not responded to queries on these issues.

Mayo County Council had deemed a road constructed by Corrib gas developers at Glengad to be exempted, but An Bord Pleanála had subsequently ordered the developers to dismantle the road or apply for planning permission.

Shell applied for retention which was granted in November 2007.

Irish Times

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