20 October 2005 Edition
Interview - Mícheál Ó Seighin of the Rossport 5 talks to An Phoblacht
"The genie is out of the bottle"
Following the release of the five Mayo men jailed for refusing to submit to an injunction against their activities in opposing the gas pipeline through their lands, one of the men, Mícheál O Seighin, spoke to An Phoblacht's Cathal Ó Murchu
Speaking of the overall direction of the Shell-to Sea campaign following the release from jail of the Rossport 5, Mícheál Ó Seighin is careful to point out that: "We aren't the Shell-to-Sea campaign. There were a lot of supporters and people outside who responded to us as we were imprisoned on a safety issue. As regards the Shell-to-Sea campaign, we would support this campaign and will continue to do so. It will respond to the changing circumstances without changing the underlying terms. The campaign will now focus on the privileges that have been given by the Government to Shell, particularly in relation to the ownership of the gasfield. Shell should only be given control on conditions with respect to the Irish Constitution and that they respect the people and their ownership. This hasn't happened until now and until this happens, I expect the Shell-to-Sea campaign to continue.
On the main objectives of the campaign following the men's release Mícheál points to the fact that: "We are out on temporary release. Shell are still seeking a permanent injunction against us. So the objectives of Shell-to-Sea have a much broader meaning. Initially it was that Shell would only go ahead with its project and obey the safety codes that they pretended they were using with respect to international practices and safety and that they would respect the codes that they were using. They have not been doing that.
"The implications of Shell-to-Sea was that the best, easiest and safest way of implementing this was to go and do this at sea. We told them this back in 2001, and they know damn well themselves, because they had people coming up with good grievances to defend their decision to come on land."
On whether the issues of the safety of the Shell pipeline and the ownership of the gasfield, are the same or separate issues, Mícheál explains that they are interlinked: "The public have instinctively recognised that all of these questions are part of the one issue. We became involved through the safety issue of the pipeline and its consequences for ourselves, our families and our community.
"The other point is that Shell never saw us as having any power as we were only ordinary people. This is something that the political system should have been able to handle and something that the government should have been able to handle over the years. And they haven't. However, the public at large, wider than us, have now taken this issue on board, because for the first time they have actually have seen and been able to see the enormity of what has happened. And after this, I don't think it is possible to put the genie back into the bottle. The genie is now out. In the overall context, if it weren't for it, we wouldn't be in jail and only for it Shell wouldn't have been persuaded to push this thing through as they have."
Asked whether he thinks there is any possibility of Shell re-imposing its injunction Mícheál says it is a matter for Shell: "They are looking for an injunction and they will receive it. If they get the injunction they will use it against everybody. You realise that it is not just an injunction against five, it is an injunction against everybody in the world. What they did get against the five of us was a committal order. If they do get the injunction, and that is a matter for the courts to decide, it is up to them whether they will apply it or not. If they apply the injunction again, we will of course, in the same circumstances, be back in jail."
On the prospect of returning to jail he says: "When you sit down on the table, all you have is the menu before you and if that is the only menu we have, then that is the menu we will abide by.
"Táimid ar ais sa bhaile anois agus táimid ag iarraidh socrú síos. Táimid ag iarraidh greim a fháil ar an bhfeachtas agus cén áit a bhfuil sé le dul agus a fháil amach céard atá beartaithe ag na daoine iontacha a láimhseáil an rud in aon am agus socróimid síos chuig an saol a bhí againn. Déileálaimid le Shell, leis an bhfeachtas agus leis na fadhbanna seo mar a bhí sula ndeachamar go príosún."
An Phoblacht Magazine
AN PHOBLACHT MAGAZINE:
- The first edition of this new magazine will feature a 10 page special on the life and legacy of our leader Martin McGuinness to mark the first anniversary of his untimely passing.
- It will include a personal reminiscence by Gerry Adams and contributions from the McGuinness family.
- There will also be an exclusive interview with our new Uachtarán Mary Lou McDonald.