Irish Times

Green Party calls for inquiry into Corrib sinking

THE GREEN Party has called on the Ministers for justice and transport to ensure that there are “full, transparent and impartial investigations” into the sinking of a fishing vessel off Erris Head, Co Mayo.

Two men, including Shell to Sea campaigner Pat O’Donnell, were rescued from a liferaft after the sinking off Broadhaven Bay early yesterday morning and were taken to Castlebar General Hospital where they were later released.

Mr O’Donnell has claimed that his boat was boarded by four men in diving suits, who held him and his crewman Martin McDonnell at gunpoint in the wheelhouse and left the vessel before it sank. Malin Head Coast Guard has confirmed that it received a Mayday shortly after 4.30am yesterday.

Shell E&P Ireland has “emphatically” rejected “the allegation that people employed on the Corrib gas project were involved in any way in the incident”. Gardaí said they will conduct an investigation.

Green Party justice and marine spokesman Ciarán Cuffe said that the incident demanded “a full and impartial investigation”, as the sinking of Mr O’Donnell’s Iona Isle, “clearly raises tensions on all sides in west Mayo”.

He believed the Marine Casualty Investigation Board (MCIB) should investigate under section 24 of the Merchant Shipping Act.

Two community groups, Pobal Chill Chomáin and Pobal Le Chéile, which withdrew temporarily from the An Bord Pleanála hearing into the onshore pipeline yesterday due to the events, have called for independent monitors to be deployed.

Pobal le Chéile spokesman Ciarán Ó Murchú, former Air Corps pilot and managing director of Coláiste Uisce college in north Mayo, said that Shell EP Ireland was trying to “sow seeds of doubt” in relation to responsibility for the sinking of Mr O’Donnell’s vessel.

Similar “seeds of doubt” had been sown in relation to the April 23rd assault on Willie Corduff at Glengad, he said.

“If you had to choose between believing a company which has been found guilty of misleading its own shareholders, and between members of my community who never had criminal records before this project, I know who I would believe,” Mr Ó Murchú said.

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