[Sinn Fein]

18 December 2000

Corrib gas find - Gerry Adams calls for all-Ireland gas ring and poses questions in today's visit to Mayo

Speaking in Co Mayo today, where he is attending a reception by Castlebar Urban District Council to mark his pivotal role in the peace process, Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams MP called for the establishment of an all-Ireland gas ring  and a state-owned gas and oil exploration industry to keep benefits and profits in Ireland..

``The nation's natural assets, such as the Corrib gas, find should be used to improve the quality of life of our people - not to line the pockets of international resource speculators.

``Like Norway, Ireland should have a thriving state-owned gas and oil exploration industry, pumping millions of therms of gas and barrels of oil into pipelines and tankers, creating thousands of jobs and generating multi-million-pound profits for the people of Ireland.

``Instead we have a Dublin government that has given away our offshore oil and gas resources to multinational companies, some of whom will not even employ Irish workers on their drilling rigs!  Foreign exploration companies are exploiting huge commercial oil and gas finds while the Dublin Government has abdicated its responsibilities to develop these resources.

``Sinn Fein believes that now is time to build an all-Ireland ring that would link not only Dublin and Belfast but also Belfast to Derry and back into the 26 Counties to Letterkenny with spurs to the Border regions and south to Sligo and back to Galway.''  Mr Adams added:

``All the different energy ventures taking place highlight the need for a co-ordinated all-Ireland development strategy.  Such major infrastrucutural developments should not occur in isolation.  They should be developed in conjunction with a proper all-Ireland strategy for electricity and building the vital digital cable hubs necessary for `new economy' enterprises.''

``The experience in Ireland is widely different from that in Norway where the government started its own oil company (Statoil), hired its own rigs to drill for oil and charged other companies taxes of up to 75 per cent royalties for the right to drill oil and gas. Now the Norwegians have billions of pounds in oil revenue invested in their domestic economy and thousands of jobs both offshore and onshore.

``It seems that they read the part of the 1919 Democratic Programme which states, `It shall be our duty to promote the development of the nation's resources.' The Dublin Government has forgotten this and the line that promises that this is to be done `in the interests and for the benefit of the Irish people'. ``

The Sinn Fein president said that the people of Ireland, but particularly the people of Mayo and the West of Ireland, deserve answers to a number of questions about the Corrib gas find:

(1) What is the actual quantity of gas discovered so far? (2) How long will the gas last at current usage levels? (3) Why is there not a commercial argument to be made for an all-island gas  network?  Which parts of the network would be commercially viable?  Which would not be? (4) What type of employment opportunities will there be in the long- and  short-term? Are we equipped to provide these workers or is there a need to start developing training programmes now? (5) Is there a need for another gas interconnector with Britain? (6) Is there long-term potential to build a gas-fuelled power station on the basis of the Corrib find? (7) How will the EU directives on competition affect the gas industry in Ireland? (8) What is the exact nature of the deal breached between the Department of Public Enterprise and Enterprise Oil? (9) Where is the best place to site such station or stations? (10) Why is the gas being prioritised for the East and South when the West and North West could benefit hugely from such a resource? (11) Why is there no combined strategy between the Assembly and the Dublin Government to develop all-Ireland electricity generation plans along with the gas pipeline proposals?

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