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Sligo handled Shell well.....up to a point

Eugene McGloin - SligoToday

A FUNNY poem has relevance to the debate about the Shell donation -- that was -- for the Sligo Fleadh.

Like a troubadour himself of Fleadhanna, Pat Ingoldsby recited and sold his poems in the streets of our capital city.

Some were heartbreaking, too much so to even think about here, private paeans to the poet's private pains.

But one of his funny poems asks a pertinent question: The first guy that ever discovered how to milk a cow....what had he first set out to do?

The seeking of spondulix from Shell by the Sligo Fleadh begs the same question.

Some Native American tribes believe that a photographer takes part of the soul of a person when he/she points a camera at them.

The same is true of such a contentious sponsorship as Shell; it might well have stolen some part of some of our souls had it stood.

Newer Questions

This week the money was handed back as the organisers iterated it was an ethical organisation. That is not in doubt but it is still good to see it put down on paper.

The Sligo Fleadh press statement was superb in its presentation; it mostly 'asked' and 'answered' the right questions, the important questions.

Mostly. The Sligo statement did something that raised newer questions.....questions, it must be said, which were moreso prompted by the follow-up statement from Shell.

Shell said the approach had come to them for money -- ie not the other way around.

Secondly, the sum of money was unsaid, unspoken, unknown. The evidence, albeit circumstantial, is that the donation must have been significant five figures.

In a presentation to Sligo Borough Council on April 7th last the specifics of funding the Sligo weeklong event were presented by Michael O Domhnaill, Fleadh Marketing and PR.

A sum of €330,000 required to be raised from ''business sector and community.''

That's a big 'ask' in a fairly small (regional) community and for a Fleadh that required an overall budget of €860,000, ie the second figure mentioned in the slide presentation last April.

This week's Sligo Fleadh statement attempted to 'shut down' down the Shell debate and said it would not discuss it further.  

Questions remain for the Sligo Fleadh. It received money from the PEACE 3 Programme for its 2014 programme.

In fact the Fleadh is intended to be, and no doubt will be, a ''showcase'' for PEACE 3, the public presentation to Sligo Borough Council said last April.

Surely then somebody, somebody, somewhere in its committee(s) spotted the incongruity of asking/taking Shell money and asking/taking PEACE 3 Programme money?

These days we gender-proof, parity-proof and equality-proof items -- that list goes on -- once public money is being spent anywhere in a project.

Public money is invested in the Fleadh through the Councils and Failte Ireland and Peace 3.

For that reason a set of signed audited accounts will be seen by those funders and, by extension, the general public and its representatives.

The cheque from Shell, unless it is tiny, will be shown leaving the organisation in those accounts.

In general terms, the refund of a donation is not something that will be 'buried' in an aggregate or clustered figure, not in a voluntary body receiving public funds.

Overall, if the answer is nobody saw an incongruity and nobody 'proofed' the idea before the appeal was made, maybe the Sligo Fleadh will broaden its voluntary board membership base for 2015.

No Own Goals

Again, back to the Fleadh's own excellent presentation to Sligo politicians in April.

Councillors were told that one of the ''challenges'' ahead in 2014 was that there be '' own goals -- no self generated negativity.....''

That considered it is hard to see how nobody in Sligo shouted 'Stop' then on the decision to seek a Shell donation.

Shell butters no parsnips for me in saying it was an Irish subsidiary made the donation.

Shell's Sligo money used a logo in the official Fleadh event guide which is identifiable in every continent on earth.

Shell has a groupthink mentality about its place in the globe; the worldwide logo underlines the UNIFORMITY of its corporate thrust in that globe.

Shell has a groupthink mentality about how its core objectives are achieved and about how to deal with those in communities which oppose them.

No Connection

It has trampled on people who faced situations which forced them to 'fight.' Think Nigeria. Think Ireland, too.

The surprise is that ANYBODY in any community stands up to corporate clawhammers like Shell.

When we in Ireland struggled and were being strangled in our bid to be recognised as a free and independent people, it was 'other people' with no connection to our country who publicly stood with us.

Other people. Like the great Jamaican Marcus Garvey, who stood with the Irish in New York in the 1920s....despite their racism.

We in Sligo, as 'other people,' have reciprocated  our feelings about Shell's relationship with 'other people.'

You cannot retrofit ethics to Shell's actions across the globe. It will never have widespread community support in its cache of credibility, the way Fleadhanna do.

It was good to be reminded this week of the goodness of the Fleadh -- and not just the 'goodness' Guinness speaks about either!

The Fleadh is an outstanding organisation in the Irish canon of great voluntary community-based bodies, the co-op movement, the GAA, the Pioneer Movement, the ICA, Muintir na Tire, Community Games etc, even 'The Kilfenora' fits the mantle after a century.

Postscript: Maybe some of us with pensions should ask our banks and fund trustees to outline which funds our monies are invested in and whether these are all 'ethical' funds.

Posted Date: 
22 August 2014