The Corrib Gas conflict: More than a ‘David and Goliath’ type battle

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Located offshore Ireland, Corrib gas has become a byword for controversy, environmental damage and repression. Drawing on original data gathered between 2009-2017, this case study of the Corrib gas project illuminates environmental and social impacts of oil companies’ activities in northwest Ireland.

Tracing the evolution of the Corrib gas conflict, this paper examines interconnections between the gas consortium and Irish state, problematizing a fragmented approach to environmental impact assessment and planning processes, which exacerbated tensions between oil companies and the community in which the project was located. Concerned with environmental, health and safety risks, resistance to the project grew from a ‘loose network’ within a rural community through to national and international levels (Garavan, 2007). Environmental impacts of the project include contamination of the regional water supply, imposition of a large industrial development in a rural area, damage to Special Protected Areas and Special Areas of Conservation (Siggins, 2010; Slevin, 2016), and a recent ‘technical’ error which resulted in €400,000 worth of gas being flared (Siggins, 2017).

Social consequences span multiple levels of analysis and include deployment of ideological and state coercive resources, violent actions undertaken by Shell’s private security company (Barrington, 2010; Flood, 2009), and a myriad of physical, psychological and financial damage inflicted on people living in the region (Garavan et al. 2006; Slevin, 2016). As revealed in this paper, the Corrib gas conflict is more than a ‘David and Goliath’ type battle – it is a phenomenon that raises pressing questions about Ireland’s socio-economic composition, its relationship with the environment, the state and its ‘structural interdependence’ with multinational corporations (Harman, 2009, p. 110).
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 21 Jul 2018
EventXIX ISA World Congress of Sociology : ISA Research Committee 24 (Environment and Society) session ‘Multinational Corporations and the Environment’ - Metro Toronto Convention Centre, Toronto, Canada
Duration: 15 Jul 201821 Jul 2018


ConferenceXIX ISA World Congress of Sociology


  • Gas management
  • Extractive industries
  • Social conflict
  • Corrib gas
  • state-capital interdependence
  • Multinational corporation
  • activism
  • environment
  • Environmental concern


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