The first direct actions of the Erris struggle against Shell took place 8 years ago when 6 locals were injuncted and then 5 of them jailed for refusing to allow Shell onto their lands. In the 8 years that have passed there have been countless direct actions, dozens of arrests, about two dozen jailings and hundreds of people attacked by Garda or Shell's security company IRMS. But as the first two days of the week of action demonstrated that intense level of repression over so many years has yet to end effective resistance.
During the week the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission released an interim report on the Garda rape threat tape recordings that were revealed last April. The report contains a major error that suggests GSOC are the source of repeated attempts to spin the story in the media as somehow being the fault of the women the Garda were recorded discussing threatening to rape. The timing of the release of the report was also suspect, coming in the week Shell resumed construction and the day before a national day of action in Erris durig which four Shell to Sea campaigners were injured by Garda and/or private security violence. Such was the level of spin applied that some media made the mistake of leading with the news that the Garda had been cleared of something no one had ever accused them of, directly threatening the two women with rape.
“Give me your name and address or I’ll rape you” - the words of a Garda Sgt as he discussed with at least two other Gardai how they were going to interrogate one of two female Shell to Sea campaigners they had arrested and who were being brought to Belmullet Garda station. Just second earlier while they were discussing how to interrogate the women one Garda suggested they threaten her with deportation. The Sgt responds with the addition of the rape threat which he repeats before another so far unidentified Garda chimes in with “hold it there, give me your name and address there, I’ll rape you” prompting the Sgt to repeat it one last time as “or I’ll definitely rape you.” [Listen to the 2 minute audio]
The Rossport Solidarity Camp was established in the summer of 2005 and since then has provided an important focus for campaigners travelling to Mayo to support the local struggle. Here we speak to Sean Mallory, a WSM member who has spent a considerable amount of time at the camp, about his experiences. Please note that the views expressed are his own and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Camp.
(Pic A night down the local pub during a solidarity weekend)
For over a year since 2005 members of the WSM and many others from the anarchist/libertarian milieu have been heavily involved in a struggle by a small community in a rural part of Ireland against the construction of a gas refinery by the consortium of Shell, Marathon and Statoil being carried out with the full support of the Irish State.
A WSM member looks at why the people of Rossport don't take Shell's assurances that the high pressure gas pipeline being imposed on them is safe. Of primary concern to the people of Rossport for the last 6 years has been their personal safety. Many other very important issues of national importance have been raised but this still is at the core of the struggle. Until very recently it was proposed that gas would be pumped, untreated, straight from the field through the pipe and by houses many of which are less than seventy metres away. Never in history has gas been “transmitted” through an inhabitated area at completely uneven and unpredictable pressure up to a massive 345 bars.
Almost two years after Shell smuggled their Tunnel Boring Machine out of Dublin port in the middle of the night, and then spent 3 days meeting resistance across the country before getting stuck in the bog, they removed it from Erris Monday night.
Early yesterday morning, Mayo farmer Gerry Bourke was arrested by Gardaí at his home in Aughoose, Co. Mayo. He was held for 6 hours at Belmullet Garda station before being charged with criminal damage and trespass at Shell's tunneling compound at Aughoose.
Shell to Sea campaigner Naoise Ó Mongáin asking Garda to stop videotaping his grand daughter during a protest at Shell's refinery on Saturday.
Yesterday five people were arrested by the Garda as violence was used to break up protests against the continued imposition of an experimental gas pipeline on the community by Shell. In the morning 30 Garda blocked the entrance of Rossport Solidarity Camp and then arrested 2 Shell to Sea campaigners who were trying to access the public road. During these arrests Garda behaviour was described as "very violent" by an eyewitness we talked to.