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1 November 2007 Edition

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Direct action stops illegal Shell work in Mayo

A protester climbed up on the drilling machine, forcing the Shell workers to shut it off

A protester climbed up on the drilling machine, forcing the Shell workers to shut it off

SHELL TO SEA campaigners in Rossport, County Mayo, took direct action last week to stop what they say is illegal work being carried by Shell on the Special Area of Conservation (SAC) at Glengad, across the bay form Rossport.
This is very near the site of the Rossport Solidarity Camp which, ironically, was recently ordered to be removed from the conservation area because of its status as a protected habitat!
RPS, the company Shell has employed to find a new route for their controversial pipeline, had erected a portacabin and a heavy drilling machine inside temporary fencing on the beach.  When questioned by local people, a spokesperson for RPS claimed the maps they had received from Shell showed that they were not actually inside the Special Area of Conservation.
Vincent McGrath, who spent three months in prison for opposing the pipeline scheme, showed her the maps he had received from the National Parks and Wildlife Service which illustrated that they were in fact drilling on the SAC. He informed her that in order to drill bore holes there, permission from the Environment Minister was needed and that, until this permission was produced, no further work would be allowed.
The RPS workers then called the police and a large force of gardaí duly arrived and formed a barrier around the Shell site to stop the protestors interfering with the work.
Superintendent John Gilligan, the new commander of the police force in Erris, told campaigners he was giving them five minutes to leave the area or they would be removed. Although he was shown maps and had the situation explained to him, he still told the Shell contractors to start up the drilling machine again and insisted that the activists should leave. Local people said they were merely attempting to uphold the law and that it was the Shell contractors who were breaking it, but the Superintendent was clearly not interested.
However, a quick-witted protester managed to get through the screen of gardaí and climbed up on the drilling machine, forcing the Shell workers to shut it off. A solution was reached when the protestor agreed he would climb down on condition that the Shell operation would be halted and the drilling machine removed.
Shell has since admitted that its workers have been drilling in the SAC without the appropriate consent and that they have not in fact consulted with the National Parks and Wildlife Service before drilling. They have said the “oversight” was due to “miscommunication” within Shell and RPS.

AFRI annual ‘Hedge School’ at Rossport
Afri (Action from Ireland), the NGO campaigning on international justice and peace issues, is holding its eighth annual ‘Hedge School’ on Saturday and Sunday, 3/4 November, in Glenamoy, near Rossport.
This year’s gathering will look at vital issues arising from resource extraction, both locally and globally. The weekend will be looking at themes such as ecology, solidarity, resistance and dialogue. There will also be tours of the local area, good food, good music and good fun.
There will be speakers from the local Shell to Sea group as well as veterans of campaigns against Shell in Nigeria.
Further information from Afri: via e-mail [email protected] or phone 01 882 7581.


Irish events remember Ken Saro Wiwa
This year is the 12th anniversary of the execution of the famous anti-Shell campaigner Ken Saro Wiwa in Nigeria in November 1995.
A large-scale protest is planned for the Shell refinery site at Bellinaboy, County Mayo, on 9 November.
Last year, at the Saro Wiwa commemoration, gardaí used batons to beat the demonstration off the roadway and many protestors (including Sinn Féin activists) were hospitalised.
Shell to Sea is also organising a vigil in Dublin  on 10 November to commemorate Ken Saro Wiwa and other people who have died for their opposition to Shell projects. Contact 087 132 3369 for more details.
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