13 October 2005 Edition
"In for the Long Haul" - Shell to Sea campaign
Rossport 5 defiant as oral hearings on pipeline begin
RÓISÍN de ROSSA
"They kept us waiting 94 days in jail and now the Department is looking for consultations with us this week, on the supposed issue of the safety of the pipeline." So commented one of the Rossport 5 who are now back in Mayo with their families after 94 days spent in Cloverhill Jail, Dublin.
The Rossport 5 refused to concede to Shell, to give an undertaking not to obstruct the construction of the gas pipeline, which the multinational illegally began constructing across their lands to the terminal site at Ballinaboy.
As part of the Independent Safety Review, which Minister Noel Dempsey TD has now proposed, the Technical Advisory group within the Department of Communications, Marine and Natural Resources is holding two days of public, oral hearings on the issue of the safety of the pipeline. The hearings are taking place this week in Geesala.
Court hearing at end of month
As the Shell-to-Sea campaign has continuously stressed, it is the whole project which needs to be reviewed to take account of the views of the local people, which Shell has chosen to date, to ignore. "It is not simply the issue of the safety of the pipeline. The specifications for the operation of the pipeline have changed by the week, as Shell proposes new and supposedly safer bar pressures at which the pipeline will actually operate. The debate has become ridiculous," one Shell-to-Sea campaigner pointed out.
Meanwhile, 25 October is the date set for a High Court hearing on the original injunction. Shell is seeking that the injunction, which Shell was granted by the High Court, on foot of which the Rossport 5 were imprisoned, to be made permanent.
Adams visits Ballinaboy
As the families made clear to Gerry Adams when he visited the Rossport 5 and their families, at Ballinaboy on Friday 7 October: "We're in for the long haul. The campaign is just beginning. We are as determined as ever to see it through to the end."
Gerry Adams MP was greeted by some 60 campaigners and local people, who have stood over the last months, day-in and day-out, barricading the site for the proposed refinery of the gas.
The Sinn Féin president congratulated the campaigners, the Rossport 5 and their families who have staunchly and successfully opposed Shell's plans to build the onshore raw gas pipeline to transport dirty gas, at huge and unprecedented pressures, across their lands, farms and beside their houses.
Adams expressed his solidarity and admiration for the campaigners who have done so much to prevent the giveaway of Ireland's national resources, by the Dublin Government, to the multinational oil companies. He told the people that he had brought solidarity and good wishes from republicans all across the island to the Shell-to-Sea campaign and the five people who had been jailed simply for fighting for their rights, and the rights of local people.
The struggle promises to be a long and hard one in the months ahead.