28 July 2005 Edition

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Rossport 5 returned to Jail

The Five Rossport men, whose imprisonment has brought to the attention of every community in Ireland, the corrupt giveaway of our national resources to the multinational corporations Shell, Marathon and the Norwegian state owned Statoil, were sent back to jail on Monday by the President of the High Court, Mr Justice Finnegan.

The five Mayo men were imprisoned, a month ago, on foot of an injunction, granted to Shell by the High Court, which it now appears was illegally given to Shell.

Shell sought to order those injuncted to desist from obstructing the construction and installation of the pipeline, across their lands. But it appears, and Shell have accepted, that construction and installation of the pipeline was and is illegal and cannot proceed because it does not have the necessary consents from the Minister for Marine and Natural Resources. The Minister has ordered two reports to be prepared, and pending these, has ordered that work including fencing cease on the site.

Furthermore, the Minister has written to Andrew Pyle, CEO of Shell, with an inquiry as to why Shell has acted outside of consents, in construction in the forest at the back of Bellinaboy.

In the court on Monday Justice Finnegan asserted that he did not consider that he had been misled by Shell, and that he would not hear of any case to strike out the injunction, because the five Mayo men in prison remained in contempt of the original injunction.

Barrister John Rodgers, Senior Counsel and ex-Attorney General, acting for two of the defendants, Brid McGarry, who is not jailed, and Brendan Philbin, pointed out that "this brought the law into disrepute."

Rodgers said Shell was in breach of its undertaking and asked the judge "did this not require some explanation to the court?". The Judge replied that he might seek this in his own good time, but at present what was required was one step only - that the prisoners purge their contempt.

Mark Garavan, on behalf of the 5 imprisoned men, and a spokesperson for Shell to Sea Campaign, read out a prepared statement following the court hearing. It said:

"The freedom the Rossport 5 require is the freedom and obligation all citizens have, the freedom to use all peaceful means to protect themselves and their neighbours."

"We are in prison because we intend to protect out lives, our families and our neighbours from potential disaster. We cannot agree to a proposal that proposes to ban us from continuing to protect our lives by opposing the Shell works. In light of recent developments, Shell's word is hardly legal tender."

Mark added following the court proceedings that "this does not involve an apology. It involves giving an undertaking not to protest against Shell's activities on the ground in Mayo, and this is something the men cannot do, given the risk posed to them, their families and neighbours by this high-pressure pipeline."

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