Corrib Project To Become An Election Issue in Mayo?
As reported in today’s Irish Independent, an opinion poll by conducted by Public Opinion Ltd. for The Mayo Advertiser has found that 45% of voters in Mayo support the Shell To Sea campaign to have the terminal moved offshore, with 15% supporting Shell and 40% having no opinion. The opinion poll reflects the recent TNS/MRBI poll carried out for Nuacht RTÉ which showed just 23% support for Shell’s onshore option for the gas refinery.
The Public Opinion Ltd. survey of 400 people across seven regions in Mayo also showed a 19% drop in support for Fianna Fail compared to the 2002 election, while support for Fine Gael is up 19%.
Local oppostion to Fianna Fail has been fueled by the governments actions over the Corrib project. It was Noel Dempsey who commissioned British Pipeline Agency Ltd., a company half-owned by Shell, to conduct a safety report. Despite the obvious conflicts of interest, Minister Dempsey stated, “The department accepts that BPA has completed the review in a fully professional and objective manner.”
The second company commissioned, after mounting public pressure, to conduct the safety report was Advantica. Steven Lucas, the current Group Finance Director of Advantica’s parent company, National Grid Transco Plc., has formally held management positions at Shell International Petroleum Company. Advantica’s parent company was fined £15 million in connection with a 1999 gas pipeline explosion in Scotland in which a family of four were killed.
Government support for the pipeline is perhaps unsurprising seeing as Enterprise Energy Ireland (which was taken over by Shell) held major fundraising events for Fianna Fail at the Galway Races in 1998, 1999, 2000 and 2001 including a donation of £10,000 in 1997. Other companies involved, such as Pierce Construction, are also major Fianna Fail donators.
If the recent Mayo poll is to be believed, Fianna Fail will only win one seat next time out with a possibility of Fine Gael winning three.