Hunger strike by Shell to Sea activist
Hunger strike by Shell to Sea activist

Shell to Sea campaigner Maura Harrington has begun a Hunger Strike to coincide with the arrival of the Solitaire, Shell’s pipe-laying vessel in Broadhaven Bay.

In a letter that was handed into the Solitaire in Killybegs yesterday, after being previously sent to Allseas Ltd (owner of the Solitaire), Ms Harrington stated that she placed her life in the hands of the Master of the Solitaire, Mr Simon van der Plicht. In her letter, she stated that her hunger strike will end in one of two ways, either that the Solitaire leaves Irish territorial waters or her death.

A constant vigil has started at the gates of the Shell compound at Glengad in support of Maura Harrington and her opposition to the Corrib Gas Project.

Below are the two letters handed to the Solitaire yesterday.

Please be advised that, if and when your vessel, the Solitaire should approach Broadhaven Bay, Co. Mayo - a Special Area of Conservation (SAC) and a Special Protection Area (SPA) for birds - it is my intention to begin a Hunger Strike to the death. I am aged 54 years 11 months and weigh 6 stone 9lbs. Given my age, weight, medical history (calcified TB since 1980) my death will take place relatively quickly but not painlessly. The toll extracted by eight years of activism to the Shell dictated, State facilitated Corrib Project is a not insignificant factor in hastening my death.

I place my Life or Death in the hands of the master of the Solitaire, Mr Simon van der Plicht. Be under no illusion that this is an idle threat. I will begin my Hunger Strike, as stated if and when The Solitaire approaches Broadhaven Bay - it will end in one of two ways.

1. On written confirmation by Mr van der Plicht that the Solitaire is outside Irish territorial waters.

2. My Death.

Maura Harrington, Shell to Sea, Sunday 10th August 2008

Doohoma, Ballina, Co. Mayo, Ireland

FAO: The Master of the Solitaire, Simon van der Plicht

My name is Maura Harrington. I am Principal of Inver Primary School, situated beside Broadhaven Bay. I am a native of Erris and have spent all my life here.

My sense of personal outrage is driven by the primacy of Place - people come and go in nano seconds; Place endures.

As I write, my husband, who is a professional Public Registered Auditor, is entering his second month of continuous medical attention as a result of injuries sustained while in police custody (of dubious legality) in a matter related to your vessel’s presence in Irish waters.

In early July I alerted your company’s HQ legal division by phone, fax, email and registered post to the fact that your current contractor, Shell E&P Ireland Ltd (a wholly-owned subsidiary of Royal Dutch Shell plc) may have been somewhat economical with the truth when engaging the vessel of which you are master to carry out a pipe-lay operation as proposed/contracted.

I requested that my last communication per email to the legal department of Allseas would be brought to your attention. In the absence of any acknowledgement by the legal department of receipt of such I now attach a copy for your attention.

As stated therein, be under no illusion that I am anything other that deadly serious in my intent.

Maura Harrington, Shell to Sea, 4th Sept, 2008.

The Shell to Sea campaign has started an online petition: It calls for:

1. the health and safety of communities to be put above the profits of Shell. This means no raw gas pipeline through our community and refining the gas at sea.

2. the immediate renegotiation of “the great gas giveaway” (all current exploration and commercial licences) to ensure a fair deal for the Irish people and sustainable use of our natural resources.

The petition can be signed at

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© 2008 Irish Republican News