Shell compound construction starts in Erris, Gardai injure protesters

Date:

This morning Shell are attempting to restart work on their highly controversial on-shore pipeline at Aughoose in Erris Co. Mayo.  Shell are attempting to build the fences around their planned tunneling compound and with construction on-going only a few hours, Gardai have already violently attacked protestors with two people receiving medical attention one with suspected broken ribs.  Subsequent protests were broken up, by Gardai and private security, with Jim Farrell, former army ranger and managing director of private security firm IRM- S being personally involved. (pic: RSC via Indymedia.ie)

This current work is the final attempt by Shell to drive a highly dangerous experimental unrefined raw gas pipeline through North Erris. Several other pipelines routes have been successfully resisted by the communities in Northern Mayo. This latest attempt in what Shell describe as the final proposal is worrying for a community who have experienced first hand Shell's poor safety record.  This morning Shell are taking the first steps in a two year project in trying to fence off a large area at Aughoose.  They intend to use this compound at the start point for a 5km tunnel that will run to the pipeline landfall at Glengad.

Shell is no doubt keen to act, given the almost daily criticism in the mainstream media of the terms of the deal they received from the Irish Government under the direction of Bertie Ahern and Ray Bourke.  With a recent announcement in the UK that taxes on Oil and Gas production will rise, the Irish government is under ever increasing pressure to get a fairer deal for people in Ireland. This and the pending legal challenge in which An Taisce with local residents, Monica Muller and Peter Sweetman, are challenging the recent An Bord Pleanála decision to approve the pipeline route are no doubt forcing Shell to hurry construction on the project which is already several years behind schedule.  John Monaghan of the local residents group Pobal Chill Chomáin has pointed out that  hundreds of residents in Kilcommon parish have called for an oral hearing into this license.

The joint security from the Gardai and the secretive controversel private firm IRM-S is worrying. In 2009 the two individuals who featured heavily in the Film “The pipe” Patrick O Donnell and Willie Corduff were violently attacked. The attack on Mr O'Donnell saw his boat sank at sea by armed and masked men.  In the aftermath of today's protest Shell to Sea revealed that "Several people received medical attention including one campaigner who has been referred to hospital with suspected broken ribs, as a result of an IRMS security guard stamping on the campaigners chest on the ground."

Shell choose their day to start construction carefully, when several campaigners were on their way to support Maura Harrington who has been summonsed for sentencing for charges some which allegedly  occured in 2008 and 2009. This action is widely seen as blackmail by the State in an effort to end Mrs Harringtons resistence to the pipeline.  The timing of Shell's action's today suggests they are being provided details of when court cases are happening, there have already been many arrests that have been timed to remove campaigners from the area at other key phases in the construction, most notably the 2008 and 2009 arrests of Pat O'Donnell while he worked at sea in order to allow the pipe lying ship the Solitaire to lie pipes across his fishing grounds.

Added: Rossport Solidarity Camp have issued a call for people to come to Erris. "Come up straight away or join us for the Days of Action this Friday 1st and Saturday 2nd April. Accomodation & food provided, donations welcome. email or txt 0851141170 for details."

WORDS: Fin

More on the struggle against Shell in Erris

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