Shell Oil Activities in Mayo, Ireland
* INCLUDES A YOUTUBE VIDEO CLIP
For immediate release: 17th October 2006.
The official response to protests against Shell's plan to build a high-
pressure raw gas pipeline to an onshore processing facility in Rossport,
Co. Mayo, Ireland, has suggested a worrying level of interference in the
institutions of the State, its media, and the constitutional rights of
its citizens by a multinational corporation.
For the last six years, the inhabitants of Rossport, the indigenous
Irish-speaking people of the North Mayo Gaeltacht, have been under siege
from Shell operatives and the forces of the State.
In an act unprecedented in the history of the State, Shell was granted
Compulsory Access Orders and Compulsory Purchase Orders, and power to
have them enforced against the community. In refusing access to their
lands by Shell personnel, five local men were sent to jail at the behest
of Shell. These men, popularly known as the Rossport Five, were released
after 94 days when Shell lifted the injunction.
The campaign against the project is based on the following:
* The extremely generous terms given to energy companies, under which
all oil and gas found in Irish waters are the property of those
companies, the State is obliged to pay for the oil and gas at the market
price, and the taxpayer is forced to fund the costs of these companies.
* The involvement of politicians, who have since been exposed as
corrupt, in removing benefits to the Irish State from energy exploration
in Irish waters.
* The overturning of the Irish planning board's initial refusal of
planning permission for the terminal, despite the Inspector's emphatic
recommendation that the site chosen should under no circumstances be
considered. The devastating environmental consequences of gas flaring and
waste dumped into Broadhaven Bay were ignored by the board.
* The unprecedented nature of the high-pressure raw gas pipeline,
which is not only exempt from planning law, but exempt from Irish Health
and Safety regulations.
The media line has changed since Tuesday 3rd October 2006, when Gardai
were sent in force to break the blockade. Previously, Shell, and the
media likewise, acknowledged "genuine concerns", and gave undertakings to
address them, though it did nothing of the kind and insisted the project
would proceed as planned. Now, the protestors are being criminalized,
referred to as a "security risk" by Gardai who, backed by riot police and
armed detectives, have used imtimidation and violence to discourage protests.
The Gardaí, habitually well-regarded by the people as an unarmed
community police force, have engaged in several documented acts of
violence against protesters, and have been goaded into doing so by their
superiors with the aim of provoking a response from people engaged in
peaceful protests. This process has been facilitated by the media, who
have censored incidents of Garda violence, or, in the one case which was
reported, have rationalised and justified it.
Newspapers such as the Sunday Independent and the Sunday World, well-
known RTE broadcasters, and private radio station Newstalk 106, have all
stated that unnamed protestors have engaged in intimidation against
unnamed local supporters of the project, and have been engaged in
aggression against Gardai during their blockade of Shell's terminal site
at Ballinaboy. One RTE presenter in particular cited a poll (conducted by
Shell) which claimed majority support for the project, yet failed to
mention a September 2006 poll, carried out by his own station, which
stated the exact opposite. Fianna Fáil member Paddy Cosgrove, an ex-
counciller, was cited as a source by the Sunday World for their
"intimidation" story. Politicians have claimed that the protestors have
an "agenda", a line echoed by the Sunday World, which has made
allegations of terrorist involvement. No evidence has been presented by
any of the above in support of their claims.
Their statements are simply a repetition of Shell PR, and indicate that,
just as Shell dictated the terms under which they would exploit the
Corrib gas field, and dictated the planning conditions for the terminal
and the pipeline, they are now directing the media, State and Garda
campaign against the residents of Rossport, whose lives are being put at
risk by this project.
This situation represents unprecedented co-operation between all
institutions of the state and a multinational oil company, against
citizens of the Irish Republic in violation of their constitutional
rights. It calls into question the integrity and sovereignty of the Irish
International Observers are urgently required as the Gardai are seeking a
confrontation with the protestors and on one occasion were armed.
For more information contact Rossport Solidarity Camp: Bob 086 3201612
Please Watch this video:
Released by The Tara Foundation, in solidarity with the people of Rossport