The long rumbling saga of the Corrib gas project was given some fresh impetus yesterday when Minister of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs Éamon Ó Cuív along with Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resource Éamon Ryan announced a new initiative to resolve the issue.
The new hands on approach to the issue by the minister’s will see the government establish a community forum for the development of north West Mayo.
The chair of the board will engage all relevant local community and interest groups, which will also include Shell and representatives from the local workforce, along with Mayo county councillors and representatives from state agencies and an Garda Síochana.
In relation to the Corrib project it will discuss compliance with permits and licences, safety and technology, environmental management, policing and securing the advantages of the gas for the local economy.
Minister for Communications and energy Éamon Ryan said that this Forum will be the first time all of the parties sit down together.
“With the active engagement of Ministers and a number of Government actors, this represents the best possible way to move forward. I would urge all parties to come to the table and engage with us and each other. The Government is committed to working in the best interests of the people of Erris, Mayo and Ireland,” he said.
The forum will meet for the first time within a month and will be chaired by Joe Brosnan who is a former Secretary General of the Department of Justice and has retired from the civil service. He was Chef de Cabinet from 1993 to 1999 to EU Commissioner Padraig Flynn who had responsibility for Employment and Social Policy.
He is also a former Director General of the Institute of European Affairs in Dublin. He has acted as the independent chairman of a number of task forces set up by the Law Society of Ireland in recent years to review various aspects of its regulatory systems and procedures and is a member of the Independent Monitoring Commission for Northern Ireland. He was born in Co Kerry and is qualified as a barrister.
The project which has caused controversy in the north Mayo region for the past several years with local residents objecting to the site of the onshore refinery and the offshore and onshore pipelines. Construction on the refinery in Bellanboy has continued throughout the controversy, but offshore pipeline part of the project was suspended earlier this year.
The arrival of the pipe laying ship the Solitaire in the area earlier this year led prominent Shell to Sea protester Maura Harrington to stage a hunger strike which she only halted when the ship left Irish waters.