"The Government have clearly sent the message to Shell, ‘you can do whatever you want’. Fortunately due to protest, the refinery remains unconnected to the gas field. If, as Shell planned, gas had been flowing by now, we would potentially all be dealing with a gas leak and explosion.”
THE IRISH Embassy in London is this morning (Tuesday, March 16) the latest location for a series of ongoing protests against the jailing of north Mayo fisherman, Pat O’Donnell, a leading voice in the protracted Corrib gas debacle.
Last weekend well-known singer Frances Black was among a line-up of musicians to gather outside Castlerea prison, County Roscommon, as a mark of solidarity for the jailed fisherman. Reprtedly, there was great applause when she sang her version of the late Ewan McColl’s, ‘Legal Illegal’.
Five weeks ago, 52-year-old Pat O’Donnell, known locally as The Chief, was jailed for seven months at Castlebar Circuit Criminal Court by Judge Raymond Groarke. The sentence was imposed for the use of threatening and abusive behaviour towards a garda sergeant and for the willful obstruction of a garda on another occasion.
In yet another development, The Irish Times reported yesterday (Monday) that the Department of the Environment confirmed it has received 190 submissions in response to an application by Shell to carry out investigative work in Sruwaddacon Bay.
Shell’s application for a Foreshore License to drill up to 80 bore-holes in the estuary – which is a candidate Special Area of Conservation (SAC) – is in response to An Bord Pleanála’s suggestion to investigate this route as a partial alternative to the proposed modified onshore route for the pipeline.
Meanwhile, in the latest Corrib Gas Update newsletter, Mr Terry Nolan, Managing Director, stated that Shell has ‘absolute confidence in the safety of the pipeline as originally proposed’.
However, referring to the Foreshore License application to drill bore-holes, Mr Nolan continued: ‘the company is committed to addressing, as fully as possible, all matters raised by An Bord Pleanála in its request for further information’.
The newsletter also reveals that testing began earlier this month to prove the integrity of the pipework and systems at the Bellanaboy refinery site. These tests will also include venting, once each individual section of piping is deemed leak-free. This process will continue until May, and in adherence with noise-level conditions determined by Mayo County Council.