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.
When the Corrib refinery was being built & resisted campaigners warned that environmental legislation was set up to have no meaningful impact on multinationals. Two days ago we saw a very clear demonstration of this in practise when Shell was fined EUR1,000 of an estimated EUR240 million in Corrib sales so far this year. Such a fine has no deterrent impact at all, it might as well have been one cent.
THERE ARE TWO IRELANDS – reality for people like you and me; fantasy for the rich and their political servants.
Frank Feighan lives in fantasy Ireland. He was elected TD for Roscommon/South Leitrim in 2011 on the basis of a pledge not to downgrade Roscommon Hospital. Enda Kenny even made a speech in Roscommon town promising to keep the hospital at its current capacity . Once elected, Feighan and Fine Gael broke their promises in order to support the global financial system and to open up Ireland’s welfare services to retrenchment and privatisation. Roscommon County Hospital was downgraded in 2011, losing its 24-hour accident and emergency service. Local people reacted angrily to this betrayal, occupying the hospital for a number of days, organising local demonstrations in the town and a national demonstration outside the Dáil. Neighbours generally shunned Feighan in his constituency, painting slogans like ‘traitor’ on bales of hay on the roads leading to his home.
Over two years after the last major mass direct action against Shell in Erris the state continues to pursue a vindictive prosecution against some of those arrested that day. In June 2013 at the culmination of a week of action around 70 people entered the Shell compound at Aughoose where the final section of the experimental high pressure raw gas pipeline was being connected.
The local community have been resisting the pipeline and refinery for a decade. During that resistance hundreds have been arrested or injured and several have spent periods in jail. Millions was spent every year deploying hundreds of Garda and at times the airforce and navy to make effective protest impossible. Despite this the protests meant that the project has finished years late and at 3 to 4 times the original projected cost.
On Friday 20 Nov Enda Kenny received an angry welcome in Roscommon which Fine Gaelers have been whining about in the media. The statement below explains how protesters " began to sing the anthem of the anti water charges protesters in Dublin in solidarity with them: 'You can stick your water meters up your arse / you can stick your 100 euro up your arse'. Some of us also repeatedly told him that we did not want our water supply privatised and that it was time for him to go as his mandate to govern has disappeared. We were surrounded by Gardai and asked to leave and did so without any fuss."