April 3, 2007 at 9:14 am | Posted in Articles | Leave a comment

Social Science Research Council workshop, NUI Galway.


The SSRC is comprised of a group of academic researchers working in the field of environment. Disciplines encompass sociology, geography, law and the natural sciences. The third annual workshop was held last weekend in NUI, Galway.  In my paper I argued that environmental conflicts are not always easily identifiable in terms of specific issues. In fact they often involve cultural assumptions which are not necessarily articulated in the course of disputes. 

In the Corrib gas conflict, locals were forced to define the dispute in terms relevant to their various interlocutors.

Yet the dispute was about far deeper cultural issues than that. Take Willie Corduff’s explanation for his ongoing opposition: I was born and reared on this farm. It’s memories that are making us do what we are doing. My father came here in 1947. The place then was pure bog with a fallen-down house. The memories we have are of the way we were brought up. Hard times. They’re the memories you have and the memories you have to keep. To see someone coming in now and trying to destroy it, as Shell is doing, it kills you. Our footsteps are around the place since we were able to walk. There are memories of our fathers and mothers and how hard they worked to bring us up. This was all bog land. It all had to be reclaimed by hand. Doing corners by spade and shaking a bit of their own seed that the cows had left after them in the shed. It wasn’t that they went out and bought seed for they couldn’t afford to go out and buy seed. They gathered up the seed that was left after the cow had eaten. They shook it in a corner every year to make it green. That’s the reality. It’s all memories. You cannot let them die (Our Story: The Rossport Five 2006:15).  How do you translate that into terms cognisable by bureaucratic processes or multi-national corporations? Therefore, in my Seanad campaign I will argue that planning for major industrial developments must involve: 

  1. An obligatory pre-planning phase whereby developers and community engage meaningfully and agree a development model.
  2. One, over-arching independent body which oversees complex projects which involve multiple consents.
  3. That development be recognized as requiring community consent with the community as genuine partners in the pre-planning and consents phase.

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