Resistance continues as Shell to Sea campaigner freed after 118 days in prison


A still defiant Shell to Sea campaigner, Niall Harnett, has been released after spending 118 days in Castlerea prison. On his release Niall announced that "I am going straight back to the Rossport Solidarity Camp to be with my fellow activists and Shell to Sea friends in the local community. We seem to bring out the best in each other, unlike Shell and the Irish government, who bring out the worst in each other."  Niall's release today means that for the first time in many months no Shell to Sea campaigners are in prison, however resistance to Shell still continues in Erris.

According to the Shell to Sea website Niall had been sentenced to six months for "putting his hand on Garda Egan while Garda Egan was pulling out of a fellow protestor  whose leg was caught on Shell’s illegally constructed fencing."  On the site that protester, Eoin O'L, revealed what had actually happened on the day "Even though I hadn’t be arrested or even cautioned, straight away Garda Egan started dragging and pulling out of me. At this stage, I had my arm around the struts of the fence and my leg was between the fences. This pulling and dragging continued for around 5 minutes and it was during this time that Niall Harnett took hold of Garda Egan’s hand in an attempt to prevent him from causing further harm to myself. Niall Harnett pleaded with Garda Egan to stop pulling at me, but he continued. At this stage I was in considerable pain. I was eventually pulled away from the fence after Niall Harnett removed my shoe and eased my leg back through the fence.
While Niall Harnett did touch Garda Egan’s hand during the incident, that was all it was, a touch on the hand. It is worth noting that no direction was ever given to me to leave the area or I was never cautioned or arrested .. I received extensive bruising and had strained neck muscles for about 2 weeks after the incident, yet Judge Groarke in his judgement said that during my evidence in the trial I never said that I was in pain at any time."

Meanwhile resistance to Shell's plans to impose an experimental high pressure raw gas pipeline on the people of Kilcommon continues.  Over the last couple of weeks Shell have had two rigs drilling over 80 holes in Sruwaddacon bay, the bay is supposed to be an area of Special Areas of Conservation.  Most recently on Thursday "lead by the rousing sound of a visiting bagpiper and drummer" people from the local community of Pullathomas and Rossport "returned to one of Shell's drilling rigs, gaining access at low tide across the exposed sand bars of Sruwaddacon bay. On arriving at the rig a number of people surrounded the drill casing and danced around it before forming a tight huddle to prevent any further work occurring."  Work was prevented for a number of hours before after Gardai had withdrawn from the area personnel from Shell's controversial I-RMS security company "jumped on protesters and forcefully removing them, themselves surrounding the drill."

Words: Andrew