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‘Corrib could have helped saved economy’

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Corrib could have helped save economy – Cllr Conway-Walsh


Áine Ryan

aineryan@mayonews.ie

NO need for a Property Tax or mass emigration, cutbacks in primary health services and rural schools, if the Corrib gas field, and the country’s many other offshore resources, were in the rightful ownership of the citizens of the State. That is what Sinn Féin’s Cllr Rose Conway-Walsh said at her party’s Ard Fheis, which brought over 2,000 delegates to Castlebar, over the weekend.
The Erris-based councillor said that like many other locals, she was originally ‘very energized about the possibilities of what discovering gas would mean to us here in the west’.
“As a returned emigrant and a working mother, I genuinely thought that such a discovery would mean the end of forced emigration, a future of full employment, enterprise development, universal health care, free education and investment in infrastructure,” Ms Conway-Walsh said.
She said her enthusiasm was ‘short-lived’, as she soon realised ‘little or no revenue from the project would come to the citizens of the community, county or country’.
Proposing a motion reiterating the party’s opposition to the privatisatoin of the country’s natural resources, she observed: “We are left with a vague notion that there will be some undefined benefits to Ireland and we may have security of supply. The fact is we will probably be able to buy our gas and oil cheaper from Russia.”
Asking was ‘it not time we shouted stop?’, Ms Conway Walsh said: “For the last five years every sector of society in this country has had their contract of employment or benefit unilaterally changed by the government of the day. But, like our dealings with the Troika on the private banking debt, we don’t even ask for a fair cut of our own natural resources.”
Noting that the country’s natural resources could be worth up to €1 trillion, she argued that citizens had a right to call for the establishment of a State Oil, Gas and Mineral Exploration Company that would hold a 51 per cent majority share in all oil and gas finds, would have it own research facility and a 7.5 per cent royalty share.

Rural regeneration
OFFICIALLY opening the Ard Fheis, Castlebar Cllr Thérèse Ruane said there would be a special focus on issues affecting rural Ireland at the first such party conference in Connacht.
“Rural Ireland is under attack, rural communities have been decimated with unemployment, cutbacks to education and health, closures of rural post offices and garda stations and our young people (and not so young) are yet again being forced to emigrate. Ar imirce arís,” said Cllr Ruane.
She said rural  Ireland was ‘being shut down’ but that Sinn Féin would lead the way in the fight-back.

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