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Shell to Sea Statement - Nov 27, Norwegian support and formal complaint to RTE

Shell to Sea Statement

Shell to Sea warmly welcomes the strong declaration of support it has
received from Terje Nustad, leader of SAFE, the main confederation of
oil and gas industry workers in Norway. SAFE represents 7,000 industry
personnel in Norway. Mr Nustad has completed a three-day fact finding
visit to North Mayo and addressed Shell to Sea’s national meeting on
Saturday and our local community meeting on Sunday. He was accompanied by Mr
Helga Ryggvik, a leading Norwegian historian and expert on Statoil.

In his address to the local community Mr Nustad said: ‘Statoil’s
actions in Mayo is against the ethical values that they would apply in
Norway.’ Mr Ryggvik said: ‘Statoil would not dare to act in this way in

Mr Nustad pledged his union’s support to the Shell to Sea campaign. He
is to meet the head of Statoil in Dublin today. He has committed his
union to bringing information regarding Statoil’s involvement in the
Corrib gas project to political leaders and public opinion in Norway.

Shell to Sea is currently focusing on mobilising its support in Mayo.
Three new Shell to Sea groups are being established this week in
Castlebar, Westport and Ballina.

Finally, Shell to Sea’s spokesperson, Mark Garavan, is making a formal
complaint to RTE over Primetime’s decision to exclude vital poll data
from their programme last Thursday. This showed 44% of respondents
favouring an off-shore option for the Corrib gas compared to 29% favouring
the existing Bellanaboy proposal. Serious matters of impartiality and
commitment to public service broadcasting arise for RTE.

For comment and verification contact Mark Garavan 087-9023687.
For further information regarding SAFE see
Complaint to RTE

November 27th, 2006

I wish to lodge a formal complaint with RTE regarding last Thursday’s
Primetime programme (November 23rd).

1. RTE chose to conduct an opinion poll on the Corrib gas project with
The Irish Independent. This paper has had a clear and overt editorial
position in support of the existing Corrib Gas project and has published
numerous articles, opinion pieces and editorials to this effect. RTE
programme makers operate under Guidelines which require them to ensure
that no joint opinion poll conducted by them with a third party can be
used for propaganda purposes. It was apparent from Friday’s distortion of
the poll findings in the Irish Independent that the Independent
seriously misrepresented the data. This raises a serious issue for RTE and has
done damage to RTE’s reputation as an independent, public service
2. A key poll finding was excluded by RTE. Though the question was
poorly framed, the finding was nonetheless clear. 44% of respondents
supported an off-shore processing option, 29% supported the Bellanaboy option
and 12% wanted the project abandoned. The viewing public had a right to
be informed of this finding. Why was it excluded? If this critical
question was to be excluded did this not undermine the validity and
comprehensiveness of the other findings which purported to give a full account
of Mayo opinion on the Corrib gas matter?

Other matters that are of concern:

The panel discussion was edited despite assurances that this would not
happen. All references by me to the full poll were edited out which
undermined the purported comprehensiveness of the discussion. Though I was
furnished with the full poll findings, I was not informed, either
before or after the recording, that one of the findings was to be excluded
subsequently and all references to it to be edited out from broadcast.
This placed me at a significant disadvantage in the discussion.

In the broadcast programme, the Garda superintendent in charge of
operations at Bellanaboy was permitted to give his analysis of the
situation. He raised a number of allegations including abuse, assault,
intimidation and threatening phone calls. None of these matters have come before
the courts yet a clear link was established between all of these issues
and the Shell to Sea campaign. The superintendent was not subject to
questioning nor was he queried on Garda activity in policing the
protests. It was not pointed out to viewers that over ten formal complaints
have been made to the Garda Complaints Board regarding Garda actions. It
was not pointed out that a number of senior political figures from a
number of parties, including Trevor Sargent and Michael D. Higgins, have
publicly criticised the Gardai for their handling of protesters. No
local protesters were invited to give their accounts of Garda policing.

In conclusion, this programme fell far short of the standards expected
of RTE as a public service broadcaster. This is particularly
disappointing as Primetime in particular has a good reputation and has previously
addressed the Corrib gas conflict in a fair and reasonable manner.
Local people and I participated in good faith in the programme and feel
seriously let down by what was subsequently broadcast. It is essential
that RTE correct the record as soon as possible and publish the full poll

Yours sincerely,

Mark Garavan.
Spokesperson Shell to Sea.

Posted Date: 
27 November 2006 - 4:23pm