Navy Called in as Corrib Protest Escalates


The Irish navy gunboat, the LE Orla has been mobilized in the latest escalation of the standoff between Shell, the Irish state and Shell to Sea campaigners in County Mayo. The standoff comes after a relatively quiet period in the campaign and centers on attempts by campaigners to halt Shell's pipe- laying work in Broadhaven Bay and on Glengad beach, where Shell intend to bring their high-pressure gas pipeline ashore. The Irish navy gunboat has been called in after a request by Gardai and will support Garda facilitation of the Shell's works in the bay.

For campaigners on the ground the presence of the LE Orla, an ex British gunship, in Broadhaven Bay is yet another example of the Irish state's commitment to protecting Shell's discredited Corrib project at their expense. Spokesperson for local opponents of the Corrib project Pobal Cill Chomáin, John Monaghan said "The navy coming in shows what the State intends to do. They literally want to crush any opposition to their botched plans for the Corrib project."

The current standoff began at the end of July when 13 local people were arrested for demanding that Shell produce proof of permission for work at Glengad, at what is a public beach and special area of conservation, and for interrupting Shell's work when they could not produce the proof of permission. Numerous campaigners have since been arrested in the recent series of protests with opponents of the project blocking dredging activity in the bay with inflatable dinghies and occupying Shell's compound near the beach at Glengad. Local Fishermen have been keeping around the clock watch on their lobster pots which Shell had attempted to remove earlier without permission. Pickets and blockades of Shell's compound at Glengad have been met with the familiar Garda heavy-handedness witnessed at the gates of the refinery site at Bellanaboy over the last two years.

Shell's arrogant disregard to the rights of local community and the Irish state's support for Shell in the form of Garda and navy backing continues. An overall awareness that this is not a localized issue but an attack on the right of people to the collective ownership of the natural resources is necessary. Profit hungry large corporations such as Shell has nothing to offer to local communities as they make billions from these energy sources as ordinary workers struggle to pay their gas bills.

Issue 105 of Workers Solidarity Sept/Oct 2008

[PDF of southern edition of WS 105] [PDF of northern edition of WS 105]