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Doherty - Sinn fein demand that Demsey suspend new round of gas and oil licenses for the Donegal Basin

12 July, 2005

Sinn Féin's elected representatives in Donegal to protest in support of the Rossport 5 and demand that Demsey suspend new round of gas and oil licenses for the Donegal Basin

Sinn Féin's elected representatives in Donegal will hold a protest this Wednesday 13th July at the station roundabout in Letterkenny between 5 and 6pm in support of the Rossport 5 who remain imprisoned at Cloverhill prison for a second week.

Speaking on behalf of the 10 elected representatives Cllr Pearse Doherty said:

"It is not good enough for the government to wash their hands of the Corrib Gas debacle and allow Shell to ride rough shod over the people of Rossport. It is a disgrace that Micheál Ó Seighin, Vincent McGrath, Philip McGrath, Willie Corduff and Brendan Philbin are now into their second week of detention at Cloverhill prison.

"Serious issues have arisen at every stage in this process going right back to the original granting of licenses and the allocation of the site at Bellanboy, all of which are shrouded in mystery. To add to that we now have the ludicrous situation where one part of a company engaged in a potentially dangerous pipeline development is asked to conduct an 'independent review' of the risks involved.

"This is at a time when Shell is attempting to bully people whose lands lie along the route of the proposed pipeline, and where none of the serious concerns that have been raised are being properly addressed.

"The five men should be released immediately. The government should initiate an independent review of health and safety risks and institute a thorough public investigation into every aspect of Shell's involvement in this project right back to the shoddy deal that gave them control over the Corrib Field in the first instance".

Councillor Pearse Doherty has also called on the Minster for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources Noel Dempsey to suspend the current round of Applications for Frontier Exploration Licenses and to immediately carry out a review of the terms and conditions of all such licenses. The acreage on offer in the current round is in the Donegal, Slyne and Erris basins and will cover unlicensed blocks in an area of 25,000 sq km. The Successful applicants will be offered Frontier Exploration Licenses, which have duration of 15 years.

Councillor Doherty said.

"I find it quite remarkable that Minster Dempsey is proceeding with this round of licenses, in which highly flawed 1992 licensing terms for offshore oil and gas exploration and development will apply to licenses granted under this Round.

"The 1992 Gas exploration legislation is extremely flawed and represents an extremely bad deal for the Irish People. The deal gives no royalties to the Dublin government and an extraordinarily low rate of tax, all of which Shell will be able to write off.  

"At the time of this legislation former Minster Ray Burke, against the advice of senior officials in his department, held a meeting on his own with the oil companies after which the terms and conditions previously attached to licenses were changed dramatically in favor of the companies"

"In would be reckless in the extreme if Minster Dempsey were to issue new licenses without first carrying out a major review of the 1992 legislation. The time has come for this Government to start putting the interests of the Irish People before the corporate interests of the oil and gas companies. ENDS

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