Calls made for full MCC investigation
HUMAN Rights group Action from Ireland (Afri) has condemned both the Garda Síochana and Shell over ‘the bungled transport’ of its giant tunnelling machine, and an Erris councillor has called for a full investigation by Mayo County Council into the incident.
As reported widely, a lorry transporting a section of the massive Shell machine, which will build the tunnel linking the raw gas to the inland refinery, jack-knifed at a narrow crossroad in Glenamoy last Tuesday morning. The 170-tonne lorry cut off local traffic for a time, including people travelling to Castlebar for hospital appointments. Mayo County Council and Shell experts finally removed the lorry on Friday afternoon, after it widened the roadway. This removal operation, which involved a convoy of lorries transporting materials for the remedial works, was facilitated by an escort of over 100 gardaí in the early hours of Friday morning.
Afri coordinator, Joe Murray said the latest incident in the controversial Corrib project ‘represents a continuation of the long established trend whereby the health and safety of local residents has been jeopardised to boost the profits of a multinational corporation’.
“If Shell are not to be trusted to carry a piece of equipment by lorry, then how can they be trusted to transport raw, flammable gas by pipeline under an estuary and past people’s homes?” Mr Murray asked.
Mr Murray particularly criticised the arrest of local farmer Willie Corduff for his protest at the ensuing chaos at the crossroads, which accesses several communities and is on a tourism route.
“Instead of charging Shell with reckless endangerment, the Gardaí chose to arrest a man doing nothing more than peacefully safeguarding the welfare of his family and friends,” Mr Murray said.
Afri called for an immediate suspension of work on the project pending a thorough review of human rights, health and safety and environmental issues.
Sinn Féin county councillor Rose Conway-Walsh said ‘the health and safety of a whole community was put at risk by the blocking of the junction of the L1203 and R312’. Criticising the county council’s lack of transparency about the operation, she has now called for a report into how the route was assessed.
“The lack of consultation about the transporting by road of this exceptional heavy convoy is appalling. I can categorically state that neither Shell nor Mayo Council consulted me as a local councillor about the transporting of this tunnel-boring machine. Had I been consulted, the first question I would have asked was whether the carrying capacity of the route was assessed by Mayo County Council and what health and safety plan has been put in place,” Cllr Conway-Walsh said.
A county council spokesman said special permits were issued for the ‘abnormal load’ some weeks ago.
Both Shell and the county council apologised for the inconvenience to the local community. A council spokesman said work to resolve the road blockage was delayed because of protester activity. Veteran campaigner Maura Harrington was arrested at Bellanaboy Bridge after she blocked the convoy of heavy vehicles carrying remedial materials.