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Home | Friday 12th September 2008 | Issue 646

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SHELL SHOCKER

The heroic saga of the battle to halt work on Shell's oil pipeline at Rossport, west Ireland continues. After the protest camp was re-established last month next to the works compound at Glengad beach, and with dramatic and dangerous direct action on sea happening on a near-daily basis since (see SchNEWS 643, 645), this round of the fight may be close to won.

Shell are using a hired pipe-laying ship, the Solitaire, but time is rapidly running out before it moves to its next job. Having finally arrived at Broadhaven Bay, County Mayo, this Wednesday (10th), work was suspended when Shell claimed that the Solitaire's pipe-laying gear had been damaged by the weather and that the ship would have to return to Killybegs Harbour, Donegal, for repairs. But could it be that its captain, Simon Van der Plicht, is responding to persistent pressure the latest being one local teacher, Maura Harrington, on hunger strike since Tuesday at the gates of the compound after having a letter passed to the ship demanding it abandon the work.

On Monday, Three Shell To Sea activists part of a five-person group in five vessels - boarded the Solitaire in Killypegs to deliver letters of request and intent, ask Van der Plicht why he hadn't responded to previous communication, and invite him to come ashore to hear the concerns of the community about the project.

The heavy security presence at the site has increased with not just Gardai, Shell security and Irish Water Police, but also the Irish Navy, and other men in green rainjackets who protesters believe might be army. It is a security operation which has cost the Irish taxpayer 11 million and counting since 2006. In another twist, internet has been cut from the area near the site, to stop communiques reaching the outside world.

Despite the Irish Govt bending over backwards to allow this project to happen, there's nothing in it for them - all profits from the Corrib gas field will go to a consortium including majority shareholder Shell, as well as Norwegian company Statoil and Marathon Oil from Texas.
Local fisherman Pat O'Donnell was arrested on Tuesday for defending his lobster pots, which were in the path of the Solitaire, and three others were arrested on public order offences. On Wednesday, ten were arrested for public order offences at Broadhaven Bay after a lock-on taking total arrests in recent weeks to twenty-nine. In London, also on Wednesday, there was a solidarity action at the Irish Embassy featuring Rhythms Of Resistance.

On Thursday in Brighton two climbed onto the roof of a Shell garage for a banner drop, while others leafletted motorists. Police arrived - plus the FIT Team - and after threatening the climbers with Aggravated Trespass, they eventually came down and were arrested for criminal damage.
Shell To Sea protesters are urging anyone who can to get to Rossport and help write the next chapter of this story.

See www.corribsos.com and www.indymedia.ie/mayo


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