[Sinn Fein]

30th January 2002

Burke and Lowry's Involvement In Gas Deal - A Matter of Concern - Wood

Sinn Fein National Executive member and Mayo election candidate Vincent Wood has said that the involvement of both Ray Burke and Michael Lowry in the selling off of our oil and gas resource should be investigated.'' He was speaking during a meeting in Geesala on Monday , which was also attended by Sinn Fein Vice-President Pat Doherty.

Mr. Wood said:

``In light of what can only be described as one of the most generous deals ever offered to multinational gas and oil companies - The deal granting a 25% tax rate and a waiver of royalties on the Corrib Gas find - the involvement of disgraced Fianna Fail and Fine Gael Ministers Ray Burke and Michael Lowry must be a matter of concern.

``Ray Burke, in 1987 against the advice of one of the most senior civil servants in his Department met with the oil companies and completely changed the philosophy of the oil and gas legislation by getting rid of Ireland's 50% stake in a discovery; abolishing royalties an introducing massive write-offs for the oil companies.

``Frontier Licenses have been introduced that allowed the oil companies up to 20 years to hold a license on a particular offshore block, i.e. a designated drilling location. In 1995 Michael Lowry issued many of these licenses.

``Enterprise Oil, a company formed by Margaret Thatcher in 1983, moved to Ireland in 1984 and commenced their policy of lobbying politicians and civil servants. Enterprise Oil is a significant corporate donor to Fianna Fail.

``Statements by government Ministers and Bord Gais re making it clear that Mayo will not benefit from this gas find in the way that Minister Fahy claimed it would when he said that it was `The greatest thing ever to happen in the west.'

``We may have to go back to the original terms and the circumstances around their negotiation to begin the process of correcting this and ensuring that the country as well as the county gains the maximum benefit from our own natural national resource.''

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