Thursday, 12 December 2013
Order of Business
A Chathaoirligh, the Leader and members will have heard me refer time and again to ongoing problems with the Shannon LNG project whereby liquid gas is imported into the country and is reliquified in a station built particularly for that purpose. This project was mooted in 2004 when I was Mayor of Kerry and director of Shannon-Foynes Port Company on the same occasion.
Every support, goodwill and co-operation have been in evidence on the part of the both the council and the harbour authority. Land was provided for the project courtesy of the State land bank in Ballylongford. It is extraordinary to note that, ten years later, no work has been done and not one job has been created. Up to 650 jobs are at risk. The most recent delay occurred when the Commission for Energy Regulation was insisting on Shannon LNG paying a tariff for the provision of the gas interconnector, even though it had stated it would not be using it. This case was languishing in the courts for two years until yesterday afternoon when a judgment was given in favour of the commission, effectively stopping the project in its tracks. That is appalling. We are not critical of the courts as they have a job to do and will always be right, but it is amazing that in a country that prides itself on being industry-friendly and in an age of buzzwords such as "fast-tracking" and "planning" a very significant project for the region and country in terms of energy security has still not budged.
The Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, Deputy Pat Rabbitte, was good enough to come to the House to answer questions on an Adjournment matter raised by me some time ago. He was reasonably sanguine at the time in the belief the project would flourish. The matter must now be elevated to a level requiring the consideration of the Cabinet. I call on the Taoiseach to appoint a Cabinet subcommittee, involving himself; the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, Deputy Pat Rabbitte; the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Deputy Jimmy Deenihan, the Minister in the constituency; and, perhaps, the Minister for Justice and Equality, Deputy Alan Shatter, on the legal side. I want the subcommittee to meet immediately for the sake of the project. The Taoiseach did fantastic work last week in Japan and did great work for the agriculture sector in creating jobs. Meanwhile, however, 1,000 jobs are falling off the scale between Ballybunion and Listowel. The Mayor of Listowel, my colleague, Councillor Jimmy Moloney, asked for this before and I join him in making his call. What he desires is urgently required. I ask the Leader to raise this issue as a matter of urgency immediately after the Order of Business; otherwise we will be facing the loss of 1,000 badly wanted jobs.