It may well be that there are large amounts of oil and gas off Ireland’s west coast. It may well be that, after rapid advances in exploration and exploitation technology, these fields can be developed commercially. That would boost the Irish economy in 15 years time or so.
None of that is certain. It is clear, however, that oil and gas exploration companies have renewed their interest in the Irish part of the Atlantic. The assessment of the 1970s showed that the Irish resources are hard to develop. 20 years of low oil prices and, more recently, the Corrib controversy did not help. But with the current high oil price, the success off Brazil and the promise off Angola, the Irish Atlantic is back into the picture.
This is good news. However, Mr O’Toole and Mary Lou McDonald TD seem to want to kill the goose before it has laid its first egg, perhaps golden. I agree with the Minister. No oil or gas has been struck and this is not the right time to spook companies with talk of high taxes and nationalization.