[Sinn Fein]

6th March 2002

Sinn Fein Repeat Call For Burke Enquiry on Gas Deal

Sinn Fein Mayo election candidate Vincent Wood is again calling for a full investigation into the involvement of disgraced Fianna Fail Minister Ray Burke into the selling off of the county's gas reserves. This follows the publication of a report in today's Magill - `How the West was blown.'' Mr. Wood said:

``Myself and others within Sinn Fein have been consistently critical of the sweetheart deal which sold off the rights to the Corrib gas find at terms that have been described as the best available anywhere in the world.

``We have a potentially massive natural resource laying off our west coast and this government and its predecessors rolled over in the face of what were clearly better negotiating teams from the multinational oil and gas companies. The net result of this is that the Irish exchequer is receiving the bear minimum. Along with that, it is becoming increasingly clear that the intention is to pipe the gas to the east coast without making gas available for towns in Mayo. The initial concerns of people working for effective development in the west are being realised in spite of promises that Mayo will reap an enormous benefit from this gas find.

``We must seriously wonder about Marine Minister Frank Fahy's claim that the Corrib gas find was the `most significant development ever in the west of Ireland.'' In fact, it could be the greatest lost opportunity in Irish economic history.

``The involvement of Ray Burke in the changing of the terms of licenses for the multinationals involved must be a concern and should be investigated by the Tribunals.

``We must learn lessons from all of this. We must harness the wealth that exists in Irish natural resources for the benefit of the people.''

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