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Deep divisions in Erris as gas row worsens

The Pro Erris Gas Group (PEGG) has sparked outrage in Erris by claiming its proposal to postpone dismantling the Corrib gas pipeline has met with overwhelming support.On Monday October 17 last the group proposed that the dismantling of the unauthorised section of onshore pipeline be postponed pending the outcome of the latest independent safety review. It stated that if the pipeline design was declared safe then the money that would have been spent on dismantling it should be invested back into community organisations in Kilcommon parish.Yesterday, Monday, October 24. the Pro Erris Gas Group issued a further statement welcoming the “overwhelming and warm support” their proposal had received. The statement was accompanied by a list of over 40 voluntary organisations and companies in Erris and beyond which PEGG claimed had “fully endorsed our proposal and are proud to have their names published by the media”.But the Western People has been contacted by several concerned Erris residents who reject this latest statement. They believe the pipeline developers, Shell E&P Ireland is behind the initiative. This is denied by Shell.Mr John Healy, Barnatra and Mr John Maloney, Glenamoy said they were elected to PEGG along with the rest of its members at a public meeting in 2002. They say the group had simply died out about a year ago. They have not been notified of or attended any meetings in the interim and were not advised of or asked to support the group’s proposal of Monday, October 17.Mr Healy said: “That statement is not representative of the parish of Kilcommon and I would go so far as to say that the committee that published that statement is not legal. “This is crazy. It is being driven by Shell in order to put people forward who are pro gas. I am not anti gas. I am pro community. If Shell wants to know the feelings on the ground then let PEGG call a meeting again and if they want to they can elect a new committee.”John Maloney, who was also elected to PEGG and is the Manager of Kilcommon GAA, said he had not voted on the group’s proposal to postpone dismantling the pipeline. He was not aware of any such proposal. He said it would “cause uproar” if Kilcommon GAA had supported the PEGG proposal:“I could not say that Kilcommon GAA supports the gas, not after what happened when they put people to jail. It would cause uproar. I would resign straight away,” he said. “We support the gas if everything is done right but not the way our parish is being ripped apart. I do not know what is going on here.“The vast majority of this parish thinks we have been lied to about the gas. They (Shell) have used and abused us and split the parish up. No one could support this statement.”Mr Kieran Moran, who is Kilcommon GAA’s Co Board delegate, said he was not aware of any approaches made to the Club in relation to PEGG’s statement. He said such a proposal should have been discussed and voted on.Mr Kevin Healy is a founding member of the Glenamoy Community Angling Association and Glenamoy IFA. He said both organisations had discussed a proposal from Shell that they meet “about money”. The proposal had been rejected by both. Mr Healy said neither of these organisations had voted to support PEGG’s proposal. But Mr Roy O’Brien, Regional Development Officer IFA confirmed that the Association’s Mayo Co Chairperson, Mr Michael Biggins and the Connaught Vice President, Mr Brendan O’Mahony had voted in support of PEGG’s proposal. Ms Maura Harrington, a longstanding opponent of the pipeline proposals, said PEGG’s statement was not representative of the Erris community. It was a nasty initiative and a stab in the backs of the Rossport 5.“For them to call themselves a community group is disjunctive with the use of language. They are vested interests with no one’s interest at heart but their own.”Mr Michael Healy, Chairperson of PEGG, said the group had not had a lot of time in drafting its proposal but did consult with a representative of every group listed.“We could not ask them to call a meeting about it. We did not see it as an urgency or as being hurtful or harmful to anyone. The proposal stands on its own merits. We are happy to stand by it. We understand that there may be some people unhappy that their group has supported it,” Mr Healy said.Ms Susan Shannon, External Affairs Advisor, Shell stated that the company had nothing to do with the PEGG initiative. Shell has probably been in touch with various local groups but has not offered money to anyone.She confirmed that work on the dismantling of the unauthorised section of pipeline commenced last Tuesday, October 18. It is expected to conclude in three to four weeks.

Posted Date: 
21 August 2006 - 1:09am