Maura Harrington jailed for 30 days with recommendation for Psychiatric Assessment

March 12, 2009

Wednesday, 11 March 2009 22:30

Shell to Sea protestor Maura Harrington has been jailed today. She appeared before Belmullet District Court charged with assaulting a member of the Garda Síochána on Mc Grath’s Pier in Poll a Tómáis in north Co Mayo on 11 June 2007.

She was found guilty and ordered to pay a fine of €1,000 and another €1,000 to the garda benevolent fund. Maura Harrington was also found guilty of another public order offence on a separate date and ordered to keep the peace for 12 months.

Harrington refused to sign the bond and was therefore found to be in contempt of court. Judge Mary Devins jailed her for 28 days for the garda assault, and a further two days for being in contempt of court, to run concurrently.
Judge Devins also recommended that Ms Harrington should get a psychiatric assessment.



OECD offer to mediate in Corrib Pipeline dispute

March 12, 2009

The ORGANISATION for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) is to offer to mediate between Shell and the north Mayo community over residents’ health and safety concerns over the Corrib gas project.

OECD representatives in the Netherlands and Ireland have made contact with both parties, following confirmation that a complaint lodged by community group Pobal Chill Chomáin is admissible.

The complaint, lodged in 2008 by the local community group, claims that Corrib gas developers Royal Dutch Shell, Statoil Hydro and Marathon Oil have violated OECD guidelines for multinational companies.

The OECD guidelines comprise voluntary principles and standards for “responsible business conduct” by multinational companies. They are non-binding, but have considerable moral authority in the 30 OECD member states.

The complaint was lodged with OECD national contact points in both the Netherlands and Ireland, as Royal Dutch Shell has its headquarters in The Hague.

It is the first time that the Irish national contact point of the OECD has handled a complaint at this level. OECD contact points in Norway and Britain have also been notified by the Dutch and Irish representatives.

The OECD intervention has been welcomed as “very significant” by Pobal Chill Chomáin while Shell EP Ireland made no comment. Pobal Chill Chomáin spokesman Vincent McGrath said that such mediation promised to be far more extensive than that offered late last year under “confined” terms of reference by the Government.

“The key issue with this project is that it has to be examined in its totality in relation to its environmental impact, which the Government has failed to do so far,” he said.

To date, the key community groups have not participated directly in the forum established late last year by Minister for Energy Eamon Ryan and Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs Éamon Ó Cuív, due to concerns over the terms of reference. It is understood that direct talks with the Ministers may take place in late March.

The Corrib gas developers have recently submitted a revised application for an onshore pipeline route to An Bord Pleanála and are also seeking planning permission for a beach valve station at Glengad, along with relevant ministerial consents.

Earlier this week, Shell EP Ireland also applied to Mayo County Council for a further amendment to original planning permission for the gas refinery at Bellanaboy.

The company plans to lay its offshore pipeline linking the well-head to the landfall at Glengad this summer. It had secured agreement with the Erris Inshore Fishermen’s Association last year in relation to discharges into Broadhaven Bay.


Further Information on the case can be found at:

(Courtesy of

An Bord Pleanála to consider Meath Electricity interconnector plan

March 10, 2009

An Bord Pleanála will today begin a hearing on Eirgrid’s proposals for a 500 megawatt electricity interconnector between Ireland and the UK.

It is proposed that the high voltage line would connect to the UK national grid at Deeside in north Wales and come ashore at Rush in Co Dublin.

The line would then run underground along the road network to Woodland in Co Meath.

Local people have expressed concern on health grounds with large-scale protests taking place in 2008.


Bank Guarantee Order Signed by Minister for Finance

October 28, 2008

On Friday, 24th October 2008 The Minister for Finance Brian Lenihan has signed an order confirming the six main Irish owned banks will be covered by the State’s deposit guarantee scheme.

Irish Banks: AIB, Anglo Irish Bank, Bank of Ireland, EBS Building Society, Irish Life & Permanentand Irish Nationwide are the banks designated by Minister for Finance for inclusion in this arrangement. Outside banks: Ulster Bank, First Active, Halifax Bank of Scotland, IIB Bank and Postbank will be included in the guarantee.

Under the terms of the arrangement, if any institution defaults, the Minister for Finance ‘will pay to the relevant creditor, on demand, an amount equal to the unpaid covered liabilities’.

The institutions concerned will pay a quarterly charge to the Exchequer in return for the guarantee. The scheme will last until September 2010.

Minister Lenihan stated that the conditions accompanying the guarantee under the Scheme ‘will ensure that balance sheet growth is measured and in accordance with prudent banking practice, that risk is properly measured and managed and the interest of taxpayers are safeguarded’.

The Minister went on to say he expects to make further orders shortly for the other banks eligible to avail of the Scheme.

A growing list of countries have been affected by the global financial crisis. These include: Iceland, Hungary, Pakistan, Ukraine, Serbia and Belarus which are all in discussions with the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Capital has also flowed out of countries such as South Africa, South Korea and Argentina which yesterday announced it was nationalising its pension funds.


NRA has Cost-Overruns of €16 Billion According to Tarawatch

October 14, 2008

Tarawatch has stated that the National Roads Authority (NRA) has a €16 billion cost-overrun. It said it will lodge a complaint against the NRA with the Comptroller and Auditor General (C&AG).

“The C&AG has primary responsibility for ensuring value for money in public spending,” TaraWatch spokesman Vincent Salafia said.  “It should not allow one penny to be spent until there has been cost-benefit analysis and Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) on every single road plan.  “It is illegal and disgraceful for the Construction Industry Federation (CIF) to now negotiate more cost-plus, rather than fixed-price contracts, and a continuation of business as usual.  This is a reference to the

Mr Parlon used his insider knowledge to get €150m of building contracts approved which do not contain new “better value for money” provisions, documents obtained by the Irish Independent under the Freedom of Information Act reveal.

The former minister of state, who now earns €250,000 a year as director general of the Construction Industry Federation (CIF), got an agreement from Finance Minister Brian Lenihan to go ahead with 50 key projects under old-style ‘costs plus’ contracts.

This is despite the fact that the projects should have been carried out under new fixed-price contracts, which were brought in to achieve better value for money for taxpayers.

These contracts were introduced last year in a bid to curb massive overspending on key road and infrastructure projects. Under the old ‘costs plus’ model, builders could add on extra bills on top of the agreed contract if they ran into problems during construction.

According to the documents obtained from the Department of Finance, Mr Parlon sent a strongly worded letter to Mr Lenihan last May warning him of the “expense and disruption” that builders would face if the water service contracts were changed from ‘costs plus’ to ‘fixed price’ ones.

“I cannot overstress the importance of this matter to the industry,” he said. Mr Parlon denied his lobbying had resulted in builders benefiting at the expense of the taxpayer – who is now left exposed to the potential of cost overruns in the projects.

He told the Irish Independent that it had not been the fault of builders that local authorities had persisted in using old-style contracts instead of fixed-price contracts.

“Our members tendered at substantial expense and then all of a sudden a circular went out from the Department of Finance and it became apparent they would be knocked on the head. It would have taken 12 to 15 months to re-tender and it was just common sense,” he said.

Mr Parlon said that the CIF had not been threatening the Government when it warned that not using old-style contracts would lead to “public disquiet”, but had only been pointing out the inevitable reaction from local councillors “They are bread-and-butter issues for them and you would obviously have that. We chose to do this very discreetly, we contacted the minister and alerted him to what was happening,” he said.

A spokesman for Mr Lenihan said he had made his decision so the projects, some of which had been in the pipeline for years, would not be delayed. He stated that the Government was “still committed” to using fixed-price contracts.

It is to be noted that claims that cost-overruns are a feature of past contracts is a regular PR device. In 2005, the former Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern stated in the Dail that cost control in some road construction projects in the past had not been ‘up to the mark’. Mr Ahern went on to state that changes in the contract procedures operated by the National Roads Authority now meant that projects were coming in on time and under cost. He said that these problems related to a time before structures had been put in place to cope with a rapidly expanding road building programme.

TaraWatch wants the C&AG to freeze all public spending on NRA projects under the National Development Plan, until a cost-benefit analysis has been carried out.

The C&AG has expressed concerns before about the spending controls on roads projects.  In 2002 the NRA was summoned before the Public Accounts Committee to explain a massive €6.6 billion overrun. By 2004, the overrun had gone up to €10 billion.  In 2005, PAC chairman Michael Noonan said the interim report would support Prime Time’s claims (‘The Money Pit that 30 road projects originally cost at €6 billion would end up costing the taxpayer €18 billion.

TaraWatch said an engineer’s report it commissioned, and submitted to the Department of Finance on Friday, shows how the M3 motorway will cost the taxpayer an additional €1.8 billion, and will be responsible for €320 million in emissions penalties.


Shell “Armada” arrives on Mayo Beach

September 14, 2008

The largest pipelaying vessel in the world, the 1,300 ft Solitaire has arrived in Broadhaven Bay, in Co. Mayo.

Shell has employed a “small army” of private security men, backed up by gardai, to protect the landfall area.

The Dutch-owned Solitaire can lay between four and seven km of pipeline a day and normally carries a crew of around 400. Over the coming months, it is due to lay the pipe from the landfall site at Gelngar, 83km out to the Corrib Gas field. Shell’s External Affairs Manager John Egan said 22 vessels will be involved in the Corrib project: “You could describe it as the Corrib armada.” Protestors claim Shell is attempting to construct the first 200m of the 9.2km onshore section of the pipeline before An Bord Pleanala makes its decision on the onshore section.


Thursday, July 24th: Over 40 gardaí, stationed in the Shell compound, and 70 Shell specialist security forced the local community from a section of Glengad beach so that Shell could erect 10ft high fencing about 40ft down onto the beach. Using the Public Order Act, Gardai ordered the crowd to leave the area and then forcibly removed some of the protestors from the area. Members of the local community had been gathering from before 4am because they feared that Shell would begin work early as they had on the previous morning when they tore down the cliff-face to create a causeway down to the beach. According to protestors, it was a joint Garda & Shell operation.

Gardai and Shell security formed a cordon around where they were planning to put up the fencing, and then Gardai came in and forcibly removed the protestors who were inside the security bubble. There was little that the group of around 30 protestors could do but watch as the fencing was erected down to the water’s edge. It is presumed that Shell will seek to extend the fencing further once the tide has gone out again. However far it extends, it already cuts the public beach in two, which of course means that users do not have the right of way through the beach.

The legality of the consents are an issue of major concern as it is unclear what permissions Shell have received and for what exact work. Green Party Minister for Energy Eamon Ryan has claimed that it was an “oversight” that the latest authorisations for the project were not published. A spokeswoman said that all authorisations and new information relating to the department’s role would be published on the Department’s website.

Shell is now attempting to construct up to the first 200m metres of the onshore section of the pipeline without planning permission. Although the remaining 9.2km of the onshore pipeline is presently before An Bord Pleanala, this first 200m metres is due to be laid before a decision on the rest of the onshore section has been made. The further destruction of this Special Area of Conservation has continued unabated under the eyes of the National Parks and Wildlife Service.

16th August 2008The Rossport Solidarity Camp was set up again for the purposes of reorganising Shell to Sea resistance to Shell’s latest plans to construct its offshore section of the pipeline from Glengad out to the Corrib Gas Field. Protests are ongoing, involving both Shell to Sea activists and members of the local community.

29th August: An Irish naval vessel was deployed as protests mounted over the controversial Shell gas pipeline. The Irish Defence Forces said the LE Orla, with 39 crew onboard, was requested by gardaí as back-up at Broadhaven Bay, Co Mayo.

A spokesman for the naval service said he could not recall any of its ships ever being directly involved in an operation against civil demonstrations.

2nd September: Another Irish Naval Service vessel arrived off the Mayo Coast. The Irish Naval Service is composed of seven vessels. The priority which is being given to this operation is an indication its political character.

Tuesday September 9th: The Solitaire arrived in Broadhaven Bay, as the accompanying security operation intensified. Extra Gardaí; including special public order units have arrived. Local schoolteacher Maura Harrington has gone on hunger strike at the gates of the compound. Her demand is that the Solitaire leave the bay or else her hunger strike will continue.

Wednesday September 10th: Pipelaying work is temporarily suspended. According to local newspaper, The Mayo Echo, unnamed Irish Naval sources have stated their concern that a British nuclear submarine is positioned 11 miles off the Mayo coast and is providing direct assistance to the Irish authorities in monitoring communications. So far the Irish Government has refused either to confirm or deny this report. A Royal Navy spokesman, while refusing to confirm or deny the report, stated that if there is a submarine in Irish waters “then it wouldn’t be there without the permission of the Irish authorities.”


Thursday September 18th: Shell announces that the Solitaire pipe laying ship is to depart from Irish territorial waters and go to Sctoland for repair and assessment. 


Friday September 19thMaura Harrington ends her hunger strike.  



12 Protesters arrested at Shell Pipeline – an illegal arrest?

July 22, 2008

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