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Anti-Coalition
28-10-2011, 09:58 AM
Who is An Taisce really protecting here? The Irish environment or their own skin?


Corrib gas legal actions against State withdrawn (http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/ireland/2011/1028/1224306624195.html)

LEGAL ACTIONS brought by An Taisce and others over the manner in which consents were granted for the Corrib gas project have been settled and withdrawn at the High Court after an 11 day-hearing. The costs of the actions are expected to exceed €1 million.

...An Taisce was not against the proper development of the Corrib field; the issue was that development must be done in accordance with the law, he said."

The State would also contribute to An Taisce’s legal costs incurred.



An Taisce is not fit for purpose, as 'the National Trust for Ireland' - since it is completely under resourced, due to its own bad management. It either uses straw men, or settles winnable cases, so it can continue what is essentially a PR machine for the manor house mafia, and a gravy train for a few tweedy lawyers, at the expense of the taxpayer.

Behind all the bluster, they are more establishment than the establishment itself.

Captain Con O'Sullivan
28-10-2011, 10:43 AM
Some would say that certain organisations in the 'heritage' environment are (a) biddable and (b) suspiciously constituted as MORE establishment that the establishment itself. Some of them have a funny routine of actually ending up in funds from cases in which they become involved. That is not necessarily directed at An Taisce.

Anti-Coalition
28-10-2011, 11:52 AM
Some would say that certain organisations in the 'heritage' environment are (a) biddable and (b) suspiciously constituted as MORE establishment that the establishment itself. Some of them have a funny routine of actually ending up in funds from cases in which they become involved. That is not necessarily directed at An Taisce.

And they would probably be right.

The Moth
28-10-2011, 01:11 PM
Some would say that certain organisations in the 'heritage' environment are (a) biddable and (b) suspiciously constituted as MORE establishment that the establishment itself. Some of them have a funny routine of actually ending up in funds from cases in which they become involved. That is not necessarily directed at An Taisce.

Again it is the case of knocking the whistleblower. An Taisce have been consistently trying to stop the planning excesses over the years with limited or no funding from the state. Dick Roche pulled the funds entirely and many of the people work fo nothing. I suspect in the Corrib case where they have done sterling work they went as far as they could with little money and are not able to continue or see that it is a losing battle and thay can do more elsewhere. The National Trust in England receives huge Government support. An Taisce show great courage standing up against the chancer councillors and developers.

Anti-Coalition
28-10-2011, 02:27 PM
Again it is the case of knocking the whistleblower. An Taisce have been consistently trying to stop the planning excesses over the years with limited or no funding from the state. Dick Roche pulled the funds entirely and many of the people work fo nothing. I suspect in the Corrib case where they have done sterling work they went as far as they could with little money and are not able to continue or see that it is a losing battle and thay can do more elsewhere. The National Trust in England receives huge Government support. An Taisce show great courage standing up against the chancer councillors and developers.

Well, it would be useful to know how many cases An Taisce has taken, and of those how many were won, lost and settled.

My sense is that Sweetman took the present case, and not An Taisce. They don't want to lose their headquarters at Tailors Hall. So, they allow individuals like Sweetman to take cases in their name.

I would also like to know how many cases he has taken and won, lost or settled. In addition, I wonder how much he personally was compensated, in terms of expenses.

An Taisce has little money because although they have been around since the 1950s, they still only have 5,000 members - despite the huge rise in concern over the environment by the public. Why is that I wonder? At some point they have to accept responsibility, and stop blaming everyone else.

A properly run and financed organisation doing the work An Taisce attempts to do is needed. An Taisce and their pals do the ;public a disservice by making half-baked attempts at cases, and either settling them or losing them.

Anti-Coalition
30-10-2011, 10:44 AM
http://www.friendsoftheirishenvironment.net/cmsfiles/images/peter_sweetman.jpg

I did a cursory search in courts.ie (http://highcourtsearch.courts.ie/hcslive/case_search.show?sessionId=1703204099&yearNo=&recordNo=&processType=&plaintiffSurname=Sweetman&plaintiffFirstName=peter&dependantSurname=&dependantFirstName=&setDownType=&setDownNo=&setDownNoX=&setDownVenue=&courtListDate=&listType=&supremeCourtRef=&actionButton=Search)and found the following 12 High Court cases for Peter Sweetman.


SWEETMAN, PETER 1997 30 MCA SWEETMAN -V- O MALLEY CONSTRUCTION CO LTD ("Settled")
SWEETMAN, PETER 1997 6705 P SWEETMAN -V- BOWERS & ANOR ("Motion struck out")
SWEETMAN, PETER 2003 192 JR SWEETMAN -V- BORD PLEANALA ("There are no judgments for this case.")
SWEETMAN, PETER 2004 1165 JR SWEETMAN -V- BORD PLEANALA & ORS ("There are no judgments for this case")

SWEETMAN, PETER 2005 17 MCA SWEETMAN -V- SHELL E & PIRELAND LTD & ORS (1 judgment for this case)
SWEETMAN, PETER 2011 412 JR MULLER & ANOR -V- MINISTER FOR COMMUNICATIONS ENRGY & NATURAL RESOUR & ORS ("There are no judgments for this case")
SWEETMAN, PETER 2006 581 JR SWEETMAN -V- AN BORD PLEANALA & ORS ("There are no judgments for this case")
SWEETMAN, PETER 2009 99 JR SWEETMAN -V- BORD PLEANALA & ORS (2 judgments for this case)
SWEETMAN, PETER 2009 202 JR SWEETMAN -V- BORD PLEANALA & ORS (1 judgment for this case)
SWEETMAN, PETER 2011 214 JR SWEETMAN -V- CAVAN COUNTY COUNCIL & ORS ("There are no judgments for this case")
SWEETMAN, PETER 2011 236 JR MULLER & ANOR -V- AN BORD PLEANALA & ORS ("There are no judgments for this case")
SWEETMAN, PETER 2006 477 JR SWEETMAN -V- AN BORD PLEANALA & ORS (1 judgment for this case)

This does not include District court cases, cases that were threatened but not taken, or cases that he was involved in but was not a named plaintiff. How many millions has this man cost, and how many victories for the Irish environment have occurred?

So, 4 of the 12 cases made it to judgment stage, I haven't checked how many victories yet. "There are no judgments for this case" seems to be another way of saying, "settled")

<Mod CF>

C. Flower
30-10-2011, 12:39 PM
It may not mean a settlement, just that the case wasn't concluded.

Taking on environmental issues through individual court cases would always be an uphill struggle. The government usually builds in plenty of leeway for itself in the legislation.

Anti-Coalition
30-10-2011, 01:02 PM
It may not mean a settlement, just that the case wasn't concluded.

Well, that may be true. However, the present Shell case, 2011 236 JR MULLER & ANOR -V- AN BORD PLEANALA & ORS settled, as we can see from the Irish Times story. Yet, it simply states: "No judgments in this case".

Cases don't simply fail to conclude. They are won, lost, or settled. However, the settlement is not always submitted to the court.


Taking on environmental issues through individual court cases would always be an uphill struggle. The government usually builds in plenty of leeway for itself in the legislation.

It is an exceedingly difficult task, to take on the Government, in any case. The issues here are accountability and transparency. We have a serial plaintiff, taking cases in the name of An Taisce, supposedly in the public interest, but retaining complete control over the case. The cases are under-resourced, and have the chance of setting bad precedents, doing more harm than good, when they do reach judgment stage. And when they don't, nobody knows what happened.

An Taisce should be properly organised, funded and supported, if it is to act in the public interest. But they operate like a secret society, have few resources, and a very patchy record. Basically, they are unfixable. Something better is needed.

C. Flower
30-10-2011, 01:15 PM
The key perhaps is as you suggest earlier in the thread, that people should join and expand the membership, and also turn up at agms and involve themselves in running it.

Anti-Coalition
30-10-2011, 01:22 PM
The key perhaps is as you suggest earlier in the thread, that people should join and expand the membership, and also turn up at agms and involve themselves in running it.

That sounds reasonable, but has failed in the past, according to a few people I have talked to.

Firstly, they perform a background check before letting you be a member. So, if you have been critical of them in the past, they won't let you in.

Secondly, if only one person joins and tries to change things, they are soon dealt with by the many.

Thirdly, there is already so much feuding going on in the organisation, that it is impossible to get anything done.

Fourth, there is an old guard of donors and patrons, who have enough power and support to prevent any new people getting elected to any position of influence.

Your idea would only have a chance of working if like 50 people all joined together and were prepared to wage war for a number of years.

Kid Ryder
30-10-2011, 03:24 PM
Well, it would be useful to know how many cases An Taisce has taken, and of those how many were won, lost and settled.

My sense is that Sweetman took the present case, and not An Taisce. They don't want to lose their headquarters at Tailors Hall. So, they allow individuals like Sweetman to take cases in their name.

I would also like to know how many cases he has taken and won, lost or settled. In addition, I wonder how much he personally was compensated, in terms of expenses.

An Taisce has little money because although they have been around since the 1950s, they still only have 5,000 members - despite the huge rise in concern over the environment by the public. Why is that I wonder? At some point they have to accept responsibility, and stop blaming everyone else.

A properly run and financed organisation doing the work An Taisce attempts to do is needed. An Taisce and their pals do the ;public a disservice by making half-baked attempts at cases, and either settling them or losing them.

On the money there. Peter Sweetman is the real deal when it comes to the class of persons commonly described as a 'serial objector'. To the best of my knowledge he's been involved in planning cases in west Cork (back a while) and since he's 'lived' in Mayo, he's had court cases involving public infrastructure in Ballina, Knock, and the all-too-private Corrib Gas project. IIRC, he was awarded money by the courts in the Ballina case - at least that's public knowledge. He may use his (possibly former) membership of the Friends of the Irish Environment as his locus standi in each case. I'm not even sure if the FIE organisation exists any more as a functioning body. While some posters on here rail on indignantly about 'NIMBYism' and 'protest junkies', chancers like Sweetman get in under their radar simply because they're from the right background; in Sweetman's case he's the son of former Fine Gael finance minister Gerard Sweetman (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gerard_Sweetman).

Even though his legal smarts were useful in the early days to the local campaigners against Shell's Corrib Gas project, it became clear to them a little later on that Mr. Sweetman was marching to a rather different tune, and now the Shell to Sea campaign and Pobal Chill Chomáin (AFAIK) have little or nothing to do with him. I have seen him at the various oral hearings, but never at any local protest activity. And I can't forget that Monica Muller was the person who gave Mayo County Council the proximal excuse to begin eviction proceedings against Rossport Solidarity Camp to drive us out of the dunes in Glengad, so that Shell can destroy them without interruption.

The Moth
30-10-2011, 04:55 PM
That sounds reasonable, but has failed in the past, according to a few people I have talked to.

Firstly, they perform a background check before letting you be a member. So, if you have been critical of them in the past, they won't let you in.

Secondly, if only one person joins and tries to change things, they are soon dealt with by the many.

Thirdly, there is already so much feuding going on in the organisation, that it is impossible to get anything done.

Fourth, there is an old guard of donors and patrons, who have enough power and support to prevent any new people getting elected to any position of influence.

Your idea would only have a chance of working if like 50 people all joined together and were prepared to wage war for a number of years.

An Taisce is a charity and are actively seeking members all the time. They are also looking for people to go on the Board. An Taisce tried to fight the excesses of the property boom but were villified by developers, Politicians, builders site farmers and the media. Also they only make submissions. An Bord Pléanala make the decision which often goes against them. You should join and you will find that all of the above is totally untrue.

Anti-Coalition
30-10-2011, 05:17 PM
An Taisce is a charity and are actively seeking members all the time. They are also looking for people to go on the Board. An Taisce tried to fight the excesses of the property boom but were villified by developers, Politicians, builders site farmers and the media. Also they only make submissions. An Bord Pléanala make the decision which often goes against them. You should join and you will find that all of the above is totally untrue.

Answer me this. Who took the case against Shell? Sweetman or An Taisce?

The Moth
30-10-2011, 05:26 PM
Answer me this. Who took the case against Shell? Sweetman or An Taisce?

http://www.antaisce.org/corribjr/CorribJudicialReview.aspx

Anti-Coalition
30-10-2011, 05:38 PM
http://www.antaisce.org/corribjr/CorribJudicialReview.aspx

I will reprint this that here:


Statement by An Taisce The National Trust for Ireland on settling three Judicial Reviews of permissions associated with the Corrib Gas Pipeline

27th October 2011

An Taisce maintains its position that the manner in which the Corrib Gas Development Project has been consented to and constructed is a travesty of European Environmental Law. That is why we initiated these proceedings.

Rather than pursue these cases in open court, the State proposed a settlement to An Taisce. For those of you who have fought for so long and so hard for vindication in relation to the manner in which this development has proceeded; this is your victory.

At the heart of this settlement is a commitment from the Government to complete outstanding legislative transposition and to engage directly with An Taisce to address compliance with European Environmental Law. The critical objective for An Taisce – is to ensure what happened in the Corrib project – can never happen again. This is an opportunity to engage to do just that. An Taisce will continue to do everything it can to make sure the vulnerabilities in the Irish legislation are addressed. We will continue our fight to ensure that decision-making and enforcement processes effectively implement the protections afforded the environment under European Environmental Law.

This case was about breaking bad precedents. By settling this case, we achieved with greater certainty the opportunity for good precedents, and greater protection for Ireland's natural and built heritage, which is An Taisce's mission. An Taisce has always made it clear that we are not against the proper development of the Corrib Field – the issue for us is that development must be done in accordance with the law.

Had these cases continued and had we won, An Taisce believes further litigation to the Supreme Court would have followed, and if necessary further planning applications. Today, the State has settled this case, rather than continue to defend it. That is a singular concrete acknowledgement of our grievances in respect of this development, no matter how they may continue to assert the validity of the challenged consents, or justify what they did today.

We have seized the opportunity to work with the State to do what we set out to do – to make sure all development is done in accordance with the law. This is a victory for the environment. An Taisce moves forward positively and in good faith with Government to deliver support to them in their role to effectively implement Environmental Law.

The most incredible debt of gratitude must be acknowledged to An Taisce's legal team: Marilyn McNicholas & Co, James Devlin SC, Colm McEoicaidh SC, and Oisin Collins BL, whose expertise, outstanding commitment, and personal and professional sacrifice, delivered this victory.

To all of you who supported us in getting to here – we thank-you and trust you are satisfied with your vindication.

Charles Stanley Smith

Chair



It certainly looks like An Taisce took the case. But, why aren't they listed as a Plaintiff?

And "victory"?? What victory?

Anti-Coalition
30-10-2011, 06:47 PM
Shell to Sea certainly aren't happy about the way this one turned out...


News Release - Another deal behind closed doors betrays people of Erris

News release - Issued by Shell to Sea - Thursday, October 27th, 2011 (http://www.shelltosea.com/content/news-release-another-deal-behind-closed-doors-betrays-people-erris)

ANOTHER DEAL BEHIND CLOSED DOORS BETRAYS PEOPLE OF ERRIS

-- Withdrawal of An Taisce case against government sparks anger in community --

The State has admitted it failed to correctly bring into law required EU Environmental Directives. The admission was made today in the Commercial Court, in a case in which An Taisce withdrew its legal challenge to the validity of consents for the Corrib Gas project.

Despite this, the State is still maintaining that the consents given to Shell, including one given by interim Fianna Fáil minister Pat Carey on the day of the last general election, are still valid.

Shell to Sea spokesperson Terence Conway said: “If the state isn't going to carry out its moral duty to protect the people of Erris, then it falls on the ordinary people of Ireland to stand up for themselves. It's all very well being vindicated but we're still left fighting this monument to political corruption. This is just the latest deal in the whole Corrib project done behind closed doors that ends up betraying a local community which has been fighting this unwanted development for over ten years.”

Shell to Sea spokesperson Maura Harrington added: “It isn't rational what happened today, how can the State acknowledge that something is wrong and at the same time claim that consents stemming from that are still valid? It appears to us that An Taisce while acknowledging that Corrib represents a 'travesty of European Environmental Law' is willing to trade that, for their costs and a seat on an environmental law implementation group yet to be established.”

Terence Conway continued: “The State has admitted what it has done is wrong, therefore the right step forward would be to withdraw all the consents until the law is followed. When someone admits wrongdoing, then common sense and justice states that they need to put it right. In the face of a state that will not do its statutory duty, it is the ordinary people who are left with a justified fight on their hands.”

ENDS

NOTES

[1] Challenges to Corrib pipeline settled -

http://www.rte.ie/news/2011/1027/corrib.html

Anti-Coalition
01-11-2011, 09:32 AM
And I can't forget that Monica Muller was the person who gave Mayo County Council the proximal excuse to begin eviction proceedings against Rossport Solidarity Camp to drive us out of the dunes in Glengad, so that Shell can destroy them without interruption.

Can you please explain what you mean by this? What did she do to trigger the eviction? Is she in An Taisce?

Over the years, I have been very aware of An Taisce's role in many different infrastructure controversies, and they are always self-serving, to the point of undermining the public campaigns. They are lethal. There is another one on the horizon, and Sweetman and co are sniffing around. They need to be kept out this time, and the only way to do that is to expose them for once and for all.

Anti-Coalition
15-11-2011, 09:07 AM
Interesting follow-up in the Irish Times today:

An Taisce to hold public meeting on settling of Corrib gas case (http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/ireland/2011/1115/1224307582893.html)


An Taisce is to hold a public meeting in Belmullet, north Co Mayo, tonight in the wake of community criticism of its settled court action over the Corrib gas pipeline, writes Lorna Siggins .

Last week, the community group Pobal Chill Chomáin called for “legal clarity” on the Corrib project, following the decision by An Taisce and two residents to withdraw from court proceedings in late October. The group said it found it “baffling” that An Taisce would “walk away” when the court settlement had included an acknowledgment by the State that Ireland had failed to properly transpose certain aspects of the environmental impact assessment directive.

However, the State also claimed its consents, which had been challenged in the legal actions, were valid. Shell EP Ireland welcomed the settlement’s “legal clarity”.

An Taisce is to host tonight’s meeting to discuss “perspectives“on the settlement, which it has described as a victory for the environment.

One wonders if they will make it out alive?

Captain Con O'Sullivan
15-11-2011, 09:21 AM
Stinks of the same dead fish smell I get with one or two other 'heritage protection' organisations in Ireland- that of ostensible opposition but in reality no more than a lever for lowering objections by pretending to be an umbrella organisation against potentially damaging infrastructure projects and then rolling over at an appropriate point.

I think there is very good reason to have a look at the accounts of certain heritage organisations in Ireland as I noticed elsewhere that one organisation seemed to receive funds from an unusual quarter and shortly thereafter came to an arrangement with a private organisation they had previously had objection with ... I don't like the smell at all off some of these apparent guardians of the environment.

Nose is twitching every time I see some blunted objection in this area and it makes me want to peer into the accounts of the organisations involved.

Anti-Coalition
15-11-2011, 01:48 PM
Stinks of the same dead fish smell I get with one or two other 'heritage protection' organisations in Ireland- that of ostensible opposition but in reality no more than a lever for lowering objections by pretending to be an umbrella organisation against potentially damaging infrastructure projects and then rolling over at an appropriate point.

I think there is very good reason to have a look at the accounts of certain heritage organisations in Ireland as I noticed elsewhere that one organisation seemed to receive funds from an unusual quarter and shortly thereafter came to an arrangement with a private organisation they had previously had objection with ... I don't like the smell at all off some of these apparent guardians of the environment.

Nose is twitching every time I see some blunted objection in this area and it makes me want to peer into the accounts of the organisations involved.

Both the Greens and An Taisce have failed miserably to protect our environment, being more obsessed with maintaining their own private agenda's - completely contrary to the spirit and letter of sustainable development. They prey on local campaigns, to promote themselves...usually selling the locals down the tubes in the process. In exchange for free publicity, new members, etc, they make settlements that result in their members getting expenses, legal fees, etc. They create havoc during the process, as they are completely anti-democratic, and always cause arguments in campaigns, when they don't get their way. Remember, this is not even an An Taisce law suit. It was taken by Peter Sweetman, not An Taisce.

An Taisce have been getting away with this for years, but now finally the community in Mayo is calling them to task. Check this story on Indymedia:

An taisce withdrawal sparks four protests in two days (http://www.indymedia.ie/article/100845?search_text=taisce)


Last week, an taisce pulled out of a judicial review challenging the granting of consents in Sruwaddacon Bay as part of the Bellinaboy gas refinery project. Already the subject of a ten year campaign, this was not going to be taken lightly. The local community have been left with very little options, but that had not stopped the determination to fight on.


I really hope somebody videos tonight's meeting

Captain Con O'Sullivan
15-11-2011, 02:36 PM
Some of the people involved in these organisations do look very like stooges or plants to me. Professional fence-refusers.

http://t1.ftcdn.net/jpg/00/01/12/26/400_F_1122612_ydMWpy8ASG4ZNfqznxcmvaOYq0fpUn.jpg

Anti-Coalition
15-11-2011, 04:03 PM
THis throws another wrinkle into the case. It appears that An Taisce did in fact, take a case, in addition to Sweetman and Mueller - and those two are complaining about An Taisce settling. Why don't I believe a word Sweetman says?

Mayo News: Rossport residents say An Taisce ‘undermined’ them (http://www.mayonews.ie/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=14052:rossport-residents-say-an-taisce-undermined-them&catid=23:news&Itemid=46)


...On the first day of the case he (Sweetman) claimed that a settlement between An Taisce and the State was at an advanced stage and that their senior counsel was approached by the State with a view to settlement. They refused to settle and decided to advance the case on three grounds.
One of the grounds was that An Bord Pleanála had failed to carry out an Appropriate Assessment as required under the Habitats Directive in the correct manner. This was raised in the tenth day of the case and Mr Sweetman said it was to their ‘amazement’ that An Taisce only requested that the decision be reverted to the Board to be corrected technically.
Mr Sweetman felt their case died when they could not disprove the assessment by Karl Kent, deputy Chair of ABP, that all members of the board had taken home the whole file for the whole Christmas period. Mr Kent told counsel for Mr Sweetman and Ms Muller that the notes made over this period were ‘shredded’ as were all notes made at the board meetings.
“The person who had supported our case financially was in court for this examination, and said to us that we must try and settle as he felt that we could not now win. We agreed. We were again approached by council for the State and informed that An Taisce were settling their case. We then negotiated the best deal we could,” said Mr Sweetman.
He said the conditions included having both himself and Ms Muller nominated to the Conditions Monitoring Committee, which was established to monitor the implementation of the conditions attached to the consents. A spokesperson for Shell EP Ireland welcomed the settlement as a ‘very significant day for the Corrib project’.

Captain Con O'Sullivan
15-11-2011, 04:33 PM
Ah- the old shredder comes to the rescue of dodgy governance in Ireland. At least they are modernising.

They used to be prone to small and exquisitely destructive fires in the paperwork.

Anti-Coalition
21-11-2011, 08:24 AM
I was waiting to hear news of the public meeting that was to be held by An Taisce, to explain to the community of Mayo the settlement that was made with Shell. It was hard to find information, because there was nothing in the news. Finally, I got to talk to one member of the local community.

Charles Stanley Smith, Chair of An Taisce, was to attend...but he cancelled at the last minute, and a young female volunteer was sent down alone to face the music. By all accounts, she was unable to actually explain why An Taisce settled, when it was clear that the Government had failed to implement the EU law with regard to development consents. The local community were essentially told that the case was not actually taken on behalf of them at all, and that An Taisce was never opposed to the Shell refinery. I get the feeling this isn't over yet...

This seems to be a pattern. Local issue goes national. Big NGO shows up and flexes muscles, "in the public interest". Lawsuit is taken, which locals rely on. Big NGO settles case, after getting concessions for the NGO, fees, expenses, publicity, and donations. Local community left in a worse position than before the NGO arrived....

C. Flower
05-01-2016, 11:00 AM
Well this project is now up and running, for what it is worth. Ireland gets the environmental impacts, and shareholders in Shell get the profits.

A good short summary here -

https://www.irishtimes.com/opinion/ruair%C3%AD-mckiernan-corrib-gas-protesters-did-state-some-service-1.2484722

Author is a Council of State member (very important role) - Higgins appointee ??

Also a Fulbright Scholar. Many dodgy predecessors, Bill Clinton included.