Irish Republican News · August 3, 2011
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
Shell ‘goons’ battle protestors as pipe construction begins

A day of action by environmental protestors was greeted with violence as full construction work on a gas pipeline by Shell and contractors in north County Mayo began at the weekend.

Four protestors were injured and three suffered head injuries after some of the worst clashes at the site for over a year, involving 75 private security staff and two dozen uniformed gardaí police.

The private security company involved, IRMS, had closed roads over the past week in preparation for the start of the construction of a hugely controversial high-pressure gas pipeline.

A controlling interest in the Corrib gas field was sold to Shell by the corrupt former Fianna Fail government at a fraction of its worth eight years ago. Shell’s facility in Erris, County Mayo has been designed to yield considerable savings to the firm in refinery costs.

The ‘Shell to Sea’ campaign group is seeking to have the pipeline and the crude gas refinery itself moved offshore, closer to the gas field, for both safety and environmental reasons.

The protest began at about 8am on Friday last week, when Shell contractors were due to move equipment to the work site for the tunnel at Aughoose, near Rossport. Up to seven people held a vigil at the terminal gates.

Activists then made a rush for the compound and succeeded in removing four of the security fences, before they were beaten back by IRMS staff.

Nevertheless, up to 30 activists managed to breach the security fences and entered the compound.

It was here that one activist, éirígí member Joe Keegan, was viciously assaulted by three security guards, resulting in a nasty gash to his head, which subsequently required stitches.

The clashes continued in the afternoon, when a further three activists received injuries that required medical attention.

One woman who was violently thrown from the fence onto the road suffered a concussion, and had to be taken to hospital.

Another man was punched in the face and suffered a severe eye injury, while another republican activist who was attacked needed five stitches to a cut on his upper lip, and suffered damage to his teeth.

The construction work will attempts to link up the offshore section of the pipeline to a massive gas refinery at Bellanaboy. It involves the boring of a 4.9km long tunnel under Sruth Fada Conn estuary, a Special Conservation Area.

It is estimated that completion of the construction work on the onshore section of the pipeline could take over two years and involve an average of 250 daily journeys by earth-moving trucks through the scenic coastal area.

The work represents the final section of the company’s Corrib gas field exploitation project, which has faced considerable delays due to the determined resistance mounted by the local community and the ‘Shell to Sea’ campaign.

eirigi said it was noticeable that the Gardaí allowed the lead policing role to IRMS, which it described as Shell’s “mercenaries” at the site.

“The thuggish behaviour of the goons employed by Shell is nothing new – locals in Erris have endured this harassment for many years,” according to eirigi.

“Once again the local community is being forced to live under siege-like conditions; access along public roads is blocked by Shell’s private army and locals are subjected to constant surveillance as they go about their daily business.

“The struggle in Erris is far from over. While Shell continues to have the full backing of the state and its forces and is supported in its theft of Irish natural resources by the political establishment and corporate media, its project in Corrib remains stalled.

“The reason the project is still not operational is because the local community and the Shell to Sea campaign has refused to capitulate to the demands of corporate power.

“The appointment of a Labour minister has made absolutely no difference to the struggle to reclaim our natural resources.

“Pat Rabbitte like his predecessors in the Department of Energy and Natural Resources is in thrall to the oil corporations and refuses to act in the interests of the people.”


Meanwhile, it has emerged that five gardaí will not face charges after a number of Gardai were recorded discussing the rape of one female student and the illegal deportation of another, a US citizen.

A tape of the conversation had been recorded on a camcorder which had remained operational after it had been confiscated by the Gardai from the two women, who had been placed under arrest.

This week, the force claimed the tape had been ‘tampered with’ after another part of tape, relating to confidential interviews relating to a university research project at NUI Maynooth, were deleted at the request of university staff.

Two gardaí are still under investigation by the ombudsman for possible disciplinary issues.

Sinn Fein has called for an investigation into the policing practices surrounding these protests in Mayo.

“These rape comments paint a picture of an ethos of garda animosity towards these protestors,” said Sinn Féin Justice Spokesperson Jonathan O’Brien TD.

He added: “It is not tolerable for multinationals and their hired goons to engage in bullyboy tactics against ordinary people engaged in legitimate protest.

“This is without mentioning the profoundly negligent actions of this and previous Dublin governments surrounding the giveaway licensing of our natural resources.”

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© 2011 Irish Republican News