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Minister Rabbitte should apologise to the people of Mayo – Ó Clochartaigh

11 October, 2011

The Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, Pat Rabbitte, should apologise for remarks he made during a Seanad debate yesterday in relation to the development of the Corrib gas field, according to Sinn Féin Senator Trevor Ó Clochartaigh. The Minister described some of the reasons for the delaying of the development of the pipeline for 17 years as ‘daft’, that it 'is not exactly a great signal for this country to send out’, and that ‘In a warmer summer there would have been more people seeking to delay construction.’
Senator Ó Clochartaigh said that the Ministers remarks are scandalous and that he wants him “to apologise to the community in Mayo - his own native county.”

“The attitude and phraseology the Minister used were implying, in my opinion, that the people who opposed this development in a peaceful and democratic way were unreasonable. It appears that he is siding with big business in this case and making a mockery of the people who wanted to protect their rights. I do not think that this is appropriate from a government Minister, particularly when one looks at the role of the State in the whole process.

“I would also like to know when the Labour Party policy on this issue changed?”, says the Senator. “Previously, their party President, Michael D. Higgins was very vocal on it. In 2010 at the launch of a book by Lorna Siggins on the matter he likened it to the Land Wars, calling what has happened ‘tragic’, saying ‘The suggestion that what happened in Mayo was a simple law-and-order issue and what you had to do was exercise the authority of the State was such a distortion of what was taking place’, he said.”

During the debate in the Seanad, the Senator pressed the Minister to clarify whether he intends to implement the recommendations in a SIPTU report on the oil and gas industry in relation to a greater State return and changes to the licensing regime. “The people of Ireland should be getting a far greater return from our natural resources. The Minister wasn’t answering my questions”, said the Senator, “and one would get the impression from the answers he did give that this government is going to follow the policies of the previous government. The recommendations in the SIPTU report and international best practice show that this country could strike a much better deal, but apparently the Minister does not intend any significant policy change to ensure that happens.

“The Labour Party can’t ride two horses at the same time, having their spokespeople making public statements that they will stand up for peoples’ rights and the democratic process when their Ministers and Leinster House representatives do the opposite”, according to Ó Clochartaigh.

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