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GRATEFUL: Jim Mulcair. Photo : Keith Heneghan

GRATEFUL: Jim Mulcair. Photo : Keith Heneghan

GRATEFUL: Jim Mulcair. Photo : Keith Heneghan

Galway resident Jim Mulcair is chairman of RoadBridge, one of the country's top 10 infrastructure builders. Last year, it had revenues of around €150m.

Since 2004, it has done much work for Shell on the Corrib project, building roads, laying pipeline.

"In 2008 we had 1,500 people in Ireland, a huge fleet of equipment and €400m in annual revenue. Then the recession hit and the Government just stopped spending. Over 60pc of our business at that time was in motorways; that ground to a halt.

"But our work with Shell remained. We started working with them in 2004; since then they have given us €250m worth of business.

"Corrib and Shell helped us in two ways. They provided us with work when so much else dried up, and more importantly they gave us a springboard overseas. We used our experience on Corrib to market ourselves abroad when the economy tanked at home.

"Now 75pc of our revenue comes from foreign sources and we employ around 1,700 people all over the world, with around 570 of them in Ireland. This includes work on what is almost a twin facility to Corrib in the Shetlands for Total Oil.

"I understand where Shell To Sea are coming from, but I would contend that the safety argument is just not realistic. The onshore pipeline here is the safest we have ever laid, and we have laid a huge amount of pipeline for clients. Shell's appreciation of safety and environment is incredible.

"I've seen a huge change in the community in the last few years. There aren't really protesters any more.

"Shell went through an incredibly difficult period… it has had to have done some damage to Ireland's reputation. We built the exact same facility in the Shetlands and there was no opposition to it. I think that is because a terminal had already been built there for BP, so they were informed."

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