[Sinn Fein]

19th September 2002

Ferris warns of further shameful sell-out on Natural Resources

The Sinn Fein Spokesperson on the Marine and Natural Resources, Martin Ferris TD has called on all interested parties to ensure that the opening up of the Porcupine Basin to oil and gas exploration does not result in the same scandalous selling off of our natural resources that has marked previous initiatives.

Commenting upon the announcement by Minister of State John Browne that licence bids will be opened in March 2003, Deputy Ferris said;

``In view of the shameful conditions that have been attached to earlier deals, most recently with regard to the Corrib Gas Field, it is vital that the public interest is protected in the Porcupine Basin. The multi-national companies who are involved are given the easiest terms of any country in the world. The tax regime here is the lowest and the State is neither a shareholder nor does it earn royalties. Apart from that, very few jobs have been created and there are no real long term benefits to the economy.

``Minister Browne's reference to `` - the opportunities offered by exploration `hot spots' around the world'` would be laughable were it not so serious. Presumably he is preparing us for yet another sweetheart deal as our family silver is sold off at knock down prices. Well he knows that no `hot spot', not even those in the grip of the most corrupt despot, offer such terms to the multi-nationals.

``The vast mineral wealth around our coast could fuel economic and social progress for generations to come were it to be properly utilised. Instead it is up for auction at a pittance. It is high time that changed. It is also time that the current terms on offer be made subject to the same scrutiny as all of the other scandals that are currently the subject of the tribunals.'`

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