Shell employ Sinn Féin member on Corrib pipeline

One of the three members of the only Sinn Féin cumann in the Erris peninsula is employed by Shell E&P on the Corrib gas pipleine and terminal project. Paddy Ruddy, from Muingingane, Kilcommon, is a member of the local cumann based in Ballycroy and is one of the few local people employed by Shell on the gas project.

Last week, the Minister for Justice, Michael McDowell, accused Sinn Féin of orchestrating violent confrontations at Bellanaboy where protestors blocked roads and were baton-charged by a large force of gardaí on 10 November.

Shell to Sea and Sinn Féin have denied the accusation and have accused the justice minister of engaging in scare tactics designed to justify the heavy-handed approach by gardaí.

Shell has promoted Paddy Ruddy as a spokesman for its employees in recent media coverage and he was interviewed by RTÉ television when work on the site at Bellanaboy recommenced last month.

The Shell to Sea campaign has insisted gardaí employed excessive violence against peaceful demonstrators during the recent confrontation and claims a number of people were hospitalised, and many more injured, after being baton-charged.

On 6 November the Shell to Sea campaign proposed that a fresh independent review involving all concerned interests be convened to re-assess the Corrib gas project. The proposal was immediately rejected by Shell and by the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources, Noel Dempsey.

The Taoiseach said the Shell project had secured full planning approval and other consents, which include compulsory acquisition orders allowing the company to enter peoples land to lay its gas pipeline. However, Shell has also agreed to alter the route of the pipeline but has yet to submit an alternative which will require a fresh planning permission and other consents.Shell protest

"Contrary to the comments of the Taoiseach, Shell's project has not been fully approved," Shell to Sea spokesperson Mark Garavan said. There is still no agreed production pipeline route and no consents granted for any such route. There is no operating licence agreed with the EPA for the gas-processing plant at Bellanaboy. The European Commission has recently ruled that the Corrib project has breached the Habitats directive. Finally, the planning permission ganted to Shell for the processing plant is suspect because of the company's failure to notify the local authority of its proposal to 'cold vent' gas on the site."

A spokesman for the Department of Communications, Marine and Natural Resources confirmed that any new pipeline-route proposal by Shell would require a fresh planning permission and the necessary consents from the department.

Frank Connolly