Rossport: In Defiance of the State


The month of October saw the community of Rossport occupied by the Gardai Siochana. This occupation is the State response to a community trying to protect themselves against Shell: a multinational with a track record for maltreating communities which they operate in.
In Erris the State coldly laid its relationship to big business bare for all to see. The police came in with clear orders to brutalise the community. The gardai have shown in Donegal and Dublin’s inner city that they are more than able for such a task. They have lived up to this reputation in Erris.

On the first day in their attempt to break the picket they hospitalised a local teenager and broke the finger of Philip McGrath (one of the Rossport 5). This was followed up with a campaign of harassment, intimidation and provocation.

Local people have been continually photographed, filmed randomly, stopped at checkpoints. This campaign increased in its ferocity from Monday October 9th. This saw police patrol small villages of less than ten houses with riot vans. They parked outside a local primary school, where a teacher is involved in the campaign, for two hours.

This accompanied the daily assault of community members as they tried to peacefully protest. The media were more than willing to aid the gardai when they printed stories claiming that the local community were the ones harassing people.

The most interesting aspect of this campaign has been the community reaction to it. Many of us imagined we would back down in the face of such might against us. However the community has not been intimidated. They have turned out day after day to protest or blockade against the destruction of their community. Indeed, numbers have increased.

This is not say people don’t have fears but it shows that the power of capital and corporations isn’t almighty and through solidarity we can help each other overcome their harassment.

The community is now aware of the state’s potential to escalate the situation. They have learned this the hard way due to the Erris community’s previous isolation from the police. They have learned the upper class myth that only troublemakers get hassle from the police is untrue. When you interfere, or even threaten to interfere, with the status quo - be that to blockade Shell or just question the orders of those in power - they will use force, legal or illegal, against you.

At our recent national conference, the Workers Solidarity Movement donated €500 to the Rossport Solidarity Camp.
You can donate directly to ‘Rossport Solidarity Camp’ Bank of Ireland account 24306733, sort code 90-52-99

This article is from Workers Solidarity 94 Nov/Dec 2006

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