Ireland’s biggest traditional music festival has withdrawn Shell as a title sponsor of the event after pressure from environmental campaigners.
Organisers of the Fleadh Cheoil na hEireann, which involves 12,000 performers and draws an estimated attendance of 250,000 people each year, has decided to hand the sponsorship money back to Shell.
The organisers said it chose to do so “an inclusive, community driven and family focused event and to avoid any unnecessary distractions on the eve of the festival”.
Shell E&P Ireland said it was disappointed by the decision, pointing out that it had been the festival’s idea for the oil & gas company to sponsor the event.
The explorer also said it has “a proud record of assisting community and voluntary organisations in County Mayo”, including a related regional event of the music festival in Mayo and gaelic games, tourism and education initiatives.
Campaign group Shell to Sea had accused organisers of “prostituting themselves” and vowed to stage a protest at the opening of the festival by President Michael D Higgins.
Although Shell was the event’s only headline corporate sponsor, the festival also receives support from dozens of companies including several banks and many local businesses.
Ironically international project consultancy specialist RPS Consulting Engineering, which supported Shell’s Corrib pipeline from the route development stage through to detailed design, is among the patrons of the festival.
Shell’s name and logo remains on all printed promotional materials for the event, which starts at the weekend.
Some 90% of Irish and international oil and gas companies surveyed recently by PricewaterhouseCoopers said that the long-running controversy over the Triassic gas field project had damaged the international reputation of Irish oil and gas.