12 January 2006 Edition

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Russian gas dispute highlights importance of Corrib

There was a shell-shocked mood in Europe this week as governments realised the extent to which their countries and economies are dependent on natural gas supplied by Russian energy company OAO Gazprom.

A dispute between Russia and Ukraine shut off gas supplies from Russia to other parts of Europe for several days. The dispute was eventually resolved but the repercussions are still being felt as the vulnerability of countries dependent on others for energy supply has been highlighted as never before.

The incident has also drawn attention to the dangers inherent in the Irish Government's current policy of selling off Irish natural resources to private, multinational interests.

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Natural Resources Martin Ferris TD said the Russia/Ukraine gas dispute underlined the urgent need to address the exploitation of Irish gas and oil resources.

"As the Russia/Ukraine gas dispute sent shock waves across the EU it is very clear that the issue of exploiting natural resources and the supply of energy is coming increasingly to the fore for citizens right across the Union," said the Kerry North TD.

He went on: "It also serves as a timely reminder for us here in Ireland of the dangers of allowing private companies unfettered access to and control of existing resources.

"As things stand the control of the Corrib gas field has been given away by Fianna Fáil and the PDs to Shell in a deal which could only be described as an outrageous giveaway. And that deal also insured that Shell would be able to protect from public scrutiny the exact nature of the gas find off the Mayo coast, in terms of volume and potential value.

"Sinn Féin maintains that control of all natural resources should remain under the control of the Irish people. The resources extracted should be used for the benefit of all the people.

"The Corrib Gas giveaway was a stinking deal which involved at least one corrupt Government Minister and should be scrapped."

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