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Ferris Calls For Separate Department for Oil and Gas Exploration

3 August, 2006

The Sinn Féin spokesperson on Natural resources, Martin Ferris TD, has said that his party will be proposing that a separate Government Department is established to oversee all aspects of mineral exploration. It is among a number of radical new measures which Sinn Féin believes are necessary to ensure that the benefits of any oil and gas finds accrue to the Irish people rather than exclusively to the multi-nationals. Sinn Féin is also calling for the establishment of a state company that will take a share in exploration blocks and receive a pro rata return on its investment.

Deputy Ferris said: "It is clear that the Rossport situation has opened many peoples eyes to the manner in which our oil and gas reserves have been handed over to companies such as Shell. Many are genuinely astounded when they hear of the terms that govern exploration licenses and the fact that these companies are given control over potentially hugely valuable deposits with little or no return to the Irish people.

"That is why Sinn Féin is proposing that a separate Department of Natural Resources is established. This would allow greater attention to be given to this sector and enable a proper strategy to be formulated in order to reap the benefits of oil and gas finds. Such a Department would oversee the activities of a state exploration body that would actively participate and invest in exploration and which, alongside a proper revenue and royalties structure, would ensure that such finds benefit the Irish people."

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