The wife of a Mayo man jailed for protesting against a controversial gas pipeline today failed to secure the County Council’s support for their campaign.
Despite Mary Corduff’s pleas over the safety of the 70km line in a four and a half hour debate, councillors voted against a motion calling on energy giant Shell to refine the gas at sea.
Mrs Corduff said her family should not have to go through any more torture over the contentious route of the Corrib gas field through their farmland near Rossport.
Her husband Willie, and four other Rossport men – Micheal O’Seighin, Brendan Philbin, and brothers Vincent and Philip McGrath – have completed 45 days behind bars in Cloverhill Prison on a contempt of court charge.
But councillors rejected calls to support their cause over fears that Shell could sue the council. Fears were also raised that blocking the energy giant from building an onshore refinery at Bellanaboy could have a damning effect on the Mayo economy.
The motion, proposed by Fianna Fáil, Labour and Independents at an extraordinary council sitting, was defeated 13 votes to nine.
Mark Garavan, spokesman for the Shell to Sea campaign, said: “The council executive, before the motion was proposed, advised the councillors that it was illegal and that Shell may have grounds for litigation in the future if it was passed.
“The council’s legal advisers also advised it would be unsafe from a legal point of view.”
Fears were also raised over the detrimental effect such a move would have on the county in the long run, Mr Garavan said.
Shell has suspended all work on the €900m project pending a safety review later in the year.
Mr Garavan added the campaign to halt construction of an onshore refinery would continue. Protesters are due to gather in Galway tomorrow afternoon to rally more public support.
Meanwhile, Shell has appealed to protesters near the Bellanaboy and Glengad Corrib sites to allow essential maintenance and environmental work to go ahead.
Rosemary Steen, Shell E&P Ireland, called on protesters to stand back allow construction workers to move machinery off site.
“It is important as part of our on-going health and safety programme that we are allowed to carry out this work and we appeal to protesters not to interfere with these critical activities to be undertaken.”