Irish Republican News · October 1, 2005
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
Rossport Five are freed

The Rossport Five were released on Friday ahead of a major rally in Dublin to stop energy giant Shell building a high-pressure gas pipeline past their homes in County Mayo.

The men - Vincent McGrath, Philip McGrath, Willie Corduff, Brendan Philbin and Micheal O Seighin - were jailed for the last 94 days, but walked free from court yesterday.

The five were locked up after they refused to guarantee that they would not interfere with construction work on the controversial Shell project.

They had been jailed for contempt of court after breaching an injunction aimed at allowing Shell to complete the 700 million Euro pipeline.

The order was discharged in the High Court in Dublin yesterday after Shell dropped the injunction.

As the men walked from the courtroom, bringing an end to an extraordinary attle, they shook hands with prison officers and were greeted with cheers and applause from hordes of supporters and relatives.

The men were ordered to return to the court on October 25 when the president of the High Court, Joseph Finnegan, will rule if they will be given any further punishment.

Outside the court, surrounded by dozens of supporters and representatives from all political parties, the men said they had no regrets.

Mr O Seighin said it was a victory for the ordinary people of Ireland.

“The work is not going ahead, there is no compromise with the safety of lives and families,” he said.

“We do not intend to leave the area more dangerous for the kids coming after us than we got it from the people before us. It’s a victory for the ordinary people. It’s a victory for feet on the streets, for the awareness of the ordinary Irish people that things have gone too far, that they have to be stopped, that they can’t go any further.”

The five took part in this afternoon’s Shell to Sea campaign rally in central Dublin, along with Dr Owens Wiwa, brother of executed Ogoni leader and Nigerian writer Ken Sara Wiwa.

Cheered on by over a thousand supporters at the front gates of the Dublin parliament, they said they would not give up their fight.

Mr O’Seighin joked with the boisterous crowd: “Without the backing and support of so many people we would still be in Cloverhill jail.

“I was going to say languishing but obviously from the appearance of us we weren’t doing too much languishing.”

Addressing his supporters, the 65-year-old Mr O’Seighin, the oldest of the Rossport Five, said he was proud.

“Today I am proud, I am very proud to be Irish, it is great to get pride back again,” he said.

It is believed last week’s visit to Norway by members of the men’s families had played a significant role. Norway is the home of Statoil, partner in the Corrib project with Shell.

Minister for the Marine Noel Dempsey has said he now intends to nominate a mediator within the next week to initiate negotiations between Shell and Mayo landowners over the Corrib gas onshore pipeline.

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© 2005 Irish Republican News