NEWLY formed community group Pobal Chill Chomain, which includes members of the Rossport Five, claims there is growing support to relocate the Corrib gas refinery in a more remote, uninhabited coastal area.
The idea of relocating the gas refinery was first put to the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, Eamon Ryan last November by the priests of the parish of Kilcommon, Fr. Michael Nallen, Fr. Michael Gilroy and Fr. Sean Noone.
There has been further backing for the proposal from the Bishop of the Diocese of Killala, Dr. John Fleming, Deputy Michael Ring (Fine Gael), the Erris Inshore Fishermen's Association and the Mayo branch of the Green Party.
Pobal Chill Chomain formed with the aim of safeguarding "the right of the people within the parish of Kilcommon to live in a safe, healthy and pollution-free environment".
The compromise proposal to move the refinery was endorsed in April this year by a number of Kilcommon residents who had visited Norway in an attempt to break the Corrib deadlock.
They were accompanied by Michael D. Higgins, President of the Labour Party, Niall O Brolchain of the Green Party, and by Mayo Sinn Fein Councillor Noel Campbell.
During the visit, the group met with Norwegian Government parties in the Stortinget (Parliament) and with representatives of SAFE, the Norwegian oil and gas workers union.
The group also had a face-to-face meeting with officials from Statoil, one of the Corrib partners, which has a 36.5 per cent share in the gas project.
The influential British-based church organisation, the Ecumenical Council for Corporate Responsibility (ECCR), has issued a statement urging Shell HQ in The Hague 'to consider very carefully all relevant factors, including the long-term reputational benefits it will gain from reaching a settlement with the vast majority of the local Rossport community'. The statement continues: "ECCR is also notifying British and Irish church investors, trade union and other pension funds, and the wider responsible investor community, about this development, asking all concerned to join calls on Shell to accept the relocation proposal for the greater public good."
A spokesman for ECCR, Mr. Miles Litvinoff, confirmed that Royal Dutch Shell officials in The Hague have promised to give the proposal 'further consideration'.
The ECCR quotes from the statement issued by the Bishop of Killala, Dr. John Fleming, stating that the relocation proposal represents a 'significant attempt to resolve the ongoing difficulties which have surrounded the Corrib Gas project in north Mayo'.
Pobal Chill Chomain has promised to hold regular meetings within the parish to keep the community informed and to give people the opportunity to have a real input into decisions that would directly affect their health, safety and environment.