13 August 2005

Shell to Sea motion loses

Daily Ireland

By Connla Young

Mayo councillors have refused to support a campaign by residents to stop a consortium of oil companies building a controversial gas refinery.
A motion by the Shell to Sea campaign was beaten by 13 votes to nine when elected representatives met at Mayo County Council headquarters in Catlebar yesterday. Several councillors failed to attend the meeting.
Just last month, councillors passed a motion of support for the campaign but the motion was called back on a technicality.
In June, five Mayo men were jailed after being accused of breaching a High Court order prohibiting them from interfering with pipe-laying work on their land.
Willie Corduff, brothers Philip and Vincent McGrath, Micheál Ó Seighin and Brendan Philbin are now into their sixth week behind bars for objecting to the construction of a high-pressure gas pipeline across their land in north Mayo.
The men have also called for a multimillion-euro gas terminal planned for Bellanaboy to be relocated to the sea.
Last night, Vincent McGrath’s wife Maureen said after the vote: “We are disappointed but not shocked. What does surprise us is the fact that some of those who said in the past they support the Shell to Sea campaign voted against this motion of support.
“Faced with advice, which has no basis, that they may be sued down the line if they supported the motion, they put the financial wellbeing of the council before the welfare of its people. But this result doesn’t set us back. We haven’t lost any ground.”
Independent Mayo TD Jerry Cowley described the council’s decision as a “disgrace”.
“To be honest, I think a lot of these councillors voted under duress. Our attention now turns to the national rally in Galway, where we expect to see a big crowd,” he said.
The rally is to set off at 2pm today from Spanish Arch in Galway city.
Shell has appealed to protesters near the Bellanaboy and Glengad Corrib sites to allow essential maintenance and environmental work to go ahead.
Rosemary Steen of Shell E&P Ireland called on protesters to stand back to let construction workers move machinery off site.
“It is important as part of our ongoing health and safety programme that we are allowed to carry out this work and we appeal to protesters not to interfere with these critical activities to be undertaken,” she said.

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