Rights group criticise Shell and Garda over traffic blockage

The justice and human rights group Action from Ireland (Afri) has condemned the actions of Shell and the Gardai in Erris, County Mayo, over the bungled transport of tunnelling equipment for a controversial gas pipeline that has seen roads closed in the area and local people arrested, and has re-iterated its call for suspension of the project.

Afri coordinator Joe Murray said that the latest incident “represents a continuation of the long established trend whereby the health and safety of local residents has been jeopardised to boost the profits of a multinational corporation”.

“If Shell are not to be trusted to carry a piece of equipment by lorry, then how can they be trusted to transport raw, flammable gas by pipeline under an estuary and past people’s homes?”, Mr Murray asked.

Mr Murray particularly criticised the arrest yesterday of local farmer Willie Corduff for his protest at the chaos caused by the fact that a lorry carrying Shell’s tunnelling equipment had jack knifed and blocked road traffic. “Instead of charging Shell with reckless endangerment, the Gardai chose to arrest a man doing nothing more than peacefully safeguarding the welfare of his family and friends”, Mr Murray said. Mr Corduff, the winner of the prestigious Goldman Medal which is often described as the environmental Nobel Prize, was later released without charge.

Afri has previously been highly critical of the policing of the Corrib Gas dispute and has pointed to what it says were abuses perpetrated even against human rights monitors. Afri is calling for immediate suspension of all work on the project pending a thorough review of all aspects of it, including human rights, health and safety and environmental impact. Afri pointed to Shell’s much criticized environmental and human rights record in many locations throughout the world, from the Niger Delta to, more recently, the Arctic Circle, as further evidence for the need to review and revise the Corrib project in its entirety.

Rights Group Criticises Shell and Garda over Traffic Blockage: Irish Times, 7th August 2012: http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/ireland/2012/0807/1224321631080.html

The Great Gas Giveaway

We are simply giving away our gas – at a time when the state’s finances are severely strapped. Reclaiming even a portion of the revenues that should rightfully be ours would obviate the need for the severe expenditure cut-backs now occurring and would allow us stimulate the economy to relieve the impact of the recession and boost employment. For example, the estimated cost of building the Metro North is €3.7 billion, a sum that could comfortably be financed from the revenues which should be accruing from the Corrib and other sites. Simply investing the €1 billion that would arise from a 10 per cent stake in the Corrib field alone would generate a revenue stream that would obviate the need for such penny-pinching measures as the closure of three wards in Crumlin Children’s Hospital because of a €9.6 million deficit. The out-ofhours social service helpline recommended in the recent Monageer report, and which the government tells us we cannot afford, could easily be financed – its estimated cost is only €15 million. The €156 million savings from scrapping the Christmas social welfare bonus could readily be recouped by judicious investment of even a small proportion of what the government’s stake should be in the country’s oil and gas reserves.

The licensing terms for offshore oil and gas exploration, development and production, available on the website of the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources website, state that “The Minister may, for such period as the Minister deems necessary, require that specified exploration, exploitation, production or processing activities should cease… subject to conditions which the Minister may specify, in any case where the Minister is satisfied that it is desirable to do so in order to reduce the risk of injury to the person, waste of petroleum or damage to property or the environment. No claim for compensation may be made against the Minister on foot of any such requirement”. This clause needs to be invoked now so that people’s human rights can be protected, the environment preserved, and resources redirected to serve the needs of the Irish people.

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