18 October 2007 Edition
Shell to Sea protests continue
On Friday morning Sinn Féin members were among those who joined the local community to picket the disputed Bellinaboy refinery site, where they were met with the usual brutal policing tactics.
In Dublin approximately 50 people gathered at Shell’s Irish headquarters at lunchtime to show solidarity with the besieged community in Erris and their fight against Shell’s scheme to pump raw gas through a high-pressure production pipeline and build a huge polluting refinery.
The protesters at Shell’s Leeson Street HQ included many concerned members of the public as well as activists from various groups and organisations including Sinn Féin, Ógra Shinn Féin and even one member of the Green Party.
Despite the decision of the gardaí to confiscate a ladder that one of the protesters happened to be carrying, at least one activist gained access to the top of the porch at Corrib House. Many people passing by stopped and took leaflets, conversed with the protesters and expressed their support. One motorist even made a financial contribution to help with further Shell to Sea activities.
Meanwhile, 26 County Minister for Justice Brian Lenihan disclosed this week in an answer to a question from Sinn Féin TD Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin that the Garda operation in Mayo has cost €8.1 million euro so far. That this amount of money is being spent on policing a peaceful legitimate demonstration against a deeply unpopular project, at a time when many communities are crying out for a proper Garda presence on their streets, will anger many people.
Court cases against protesters in Mayo are continuing, but the attempt to criminalise the demonstrators is not going as smoothly as planned, with one case being dismissed outright by the judge, and others resulting in extremely light sentences against those accused of interfering with the project. This week a case against a local man who was accused of assaulting a Garda last June was dropped by the DPP a few days before the court hearing was scheduled. The case of three fishermen who were given lengthy prison sentences for assault is currently being appealed.
Local people remain committed to opposing the government-backed Shell scheme with many people encouraged by the news that the Green Minister for Natural Resources Eamon Ryan wishes to meet representatives of the local community for talks about the project.
Despite this, the Irish Government continues to give away Irish natural resources, with licenses being handed out this week for the Porcupine Basin, which is off the coast of Kerry, Clare, and Galway. Irish government figures estimate the value of gas and oil in Irish waters at around 450 billion euro, but all of this will go to the big energy companies, with no share for the people of the country.
The 12th anniversary of the execution of the famous Nigerian anti-Shell campaigner Ken Saro Wiwa with eight others by the Shell-backed Nigerian government in 1995 occurs on 10 November. Shell to Sea protests will be held around the country in the run up to this date, for information contact [email protected] gmail.com or call or text 087 132 33 69.
Mícheál Ó Seighin, who as one of the Rossport Five spent three months in prison for opposing Shell’s scheme, will be delivering the annual lecture at Slógadh Shinn Féin (Irish language gathering) this weekend in Howth, County Dublin. The lecture is at 8pm on Saturday 20 October in the Deerpark Hotel.