Ongoing resistance to Shell in Erris Co Mayo in January 2012

Date:

We meant to have this report out a while back, but you know, things just keep happening. It seems we've been pounding the roads of Aghoos and surrounding areas quite a lot at the moment and trying to keep warm by hugging trucks – our, not so new, favourite sport. And there are a lot of trucks to be stopped. They are coming up to every five minutes, so we don't even have to get up that early.

Of course, we still like to get up early. After the last national of solidarity on Friday 13th (see below) we went back to Srahmore peat deposition site on Monday for an early morning cross country dash. Cue, several hours of playing in the bog with IRMS security as we tried to make it to the central compound where the diggers and other machinery were hiding. They tried to make out that they'd no work on, but there was an awful lot of Roadbridge contractors hanging around doing nothing very much. Took IMRS until midday to get everyone out, several people keeping going back in.

By this stage the Gardai were looking pretty bored so we decided they needed a bit of fun as well. Shortly afterwards six Shell trucks were stopped outside Srahmore and reinforcements had to be brought down to clear us, which of course took a while given the determined resistance that we were putting up.

In the meantime, there have been very regular road occupations, with between four or five people heading down Aghoos Road to stop trucks going into the compound. These have been very successful actions, lasting between 30 and 90 minutes. Very empowering they show just how easy it is to stick a spanner in the works here. Even two people standing in front of the main compound gates have been enough to stop the movements.

There was only one arrest, and quite a few rather silly moments from the Gardai, including one person being asked which ditch they would like to be thrown in when being cleared off the road. All in all its been a lot of fun. Gardai have finally realised that they need extra numbers to deal with the road-blockages, but do not seem to be able to muster much of a will to draft them in, and then we throw a spanner in the works by coming out with more than they can handle. We anticipate a lot more of the same.

There are also the regular Tuesday morning demonstrations at the refinery, and last weekend there was a wind-turbine workshop. Camp remains strong, and as every, all welcome to come and take part. 

 by Frank - Rossport Solidarity Camp

 


Peat haulage stopped by protesters during a day of solidarity on Friday the 13th of January.

The action took place at a Bord na Mona owned site at Shramore, which Shell are using as a dumping ground

IRMS security hired by shell, occupying the State owned site yet again, demonstrated their lack of concern for health and safety. Outside police pushed protesters off the road, while one halted lorry driver expressed his intentions to police that he would clear the road by driving into protestors. Later spirits were high as police did not even attempt to clear the road when over 15 protesters lay down to block a lorry, which had to be diverted. Later the police returned and used brute force to push people off the road. They hospitalized one protestor.

At 8am on the 13th of January, 30 protesters arrived at the Bord Na Mona owned site in shramore. This site is being used to dump excavated peat from the tunnel boring compound in Aughoose. There have been an estimated 206 truck movements per day this month hauling peat and gravel between these two sites.

Protesters entered the site, some were immediately tackled to the ground and evicted through a hole in the fence. A group made it's way towards the compound but about five were jumped on by IRMS, some illegally searched and one camera and a coat was stolen. Soon the police arrived onsite and the group were escorted out by police and IRMS.

Throughout the day groups of protesters spread out throughout the site halting any onsite work, while outside protesters stopped trucks from entering the site. Gardai and IRMS worked together to remove protesters obstructing trucks. On several incidents drivers refused to stop the vehicles when blocked by protesters. One protester was unlawfully arrested while blocking a truck. He received no warnings and when asked what law the Gardai were arresting him under no reply was given. He was later charged at Belmullet Garda station.

By 1pm workers began a limited amount of work transporting peat across the site. A group entered the back of the site to halt the work. However when they tried to stop work, peat was unloaded into a ditch one protester was standing in.

Out on the road protesters formed a huge lie down halting a truck.The gardai didn't even attempt to remove the protesters and the truck was diverted.

A short time later they returned when protesters stopped another truck. This time they aggressively shoved protesters into the ditch. One protester was dropped by the gardai onto a rock on the verge of the road seriously injuring his spine and leg. Police immediately fled the scene of the accident not even calling an ambulance. The injured protester had to wait two hours for an ambulance to arrive. During this time gardai returned to clear the road again, shoving people dangerously close to the casualty. An ambulance arrived around 5pm and took the protester to Castlebar hospital. He was let out later that night with a diagnosis of spinal tissue and nerve damage. Two days later he still has not regained feeling in his left leg.

Work was successfully shut inside the Shramore site and haulage was halted for the day. When Protesters took to the road on Saterday all haulage was also halted for the day. 

Quarry Showdown: IRMS Make Rainbows, Don't Notice.
 
The morning we would occupy the quarry headed by Lennon inc. (which is located about half an hour's drive away from rossport solidarity camp), began peacefully with few clouds in the sky and surprisingly, absolutely no wind, which I noticed as I walked by the still wind turbines planted beside the camp's communal kitchen and living room.

Those of us who were awake enjoyed a short breakfast and then talked about various options for action, eventually settling on occupying and freezing the work of the quarries, quickly perusing a map of the area and noting the roads we could use to gain entrance. A few minutes later we set out in two cars towards the site.

After about a half hour drive we arrived at our drop-off point. Five of us began walking towards the quarry while our two drivers parked, planning to meet us inside the ground of the private property.

Running down a hill, into the quarry I saw the first signs of clouds all day, set against the 50 ft mounds of ground stone. The IRMS security didn't seem to expect us and we were making good progress. Three of us scaled and occupied the top of a digger and a truck used to transport stone, whilst the other two recorded everything they saw. A brief struggle occurred between two of our cameramen and the owner of the quarry and both were assaulted entirely unprovoked. One camera was also completely broken.

I and my companion began a game of chess on top of the digger. My queen had just been taken when we noticed there was another element that was to come into play. It was large , yellow, and very far from being a magnetised chess piece.

Apart from being frozen and drenched, the rainbows made by the water cannon were excellent and I really hope the IRMS understand the beauty they helped create for all of us (and which they could be capable of creating in times to come!) while we danced around the digger's claws and the top of the loading truck trying to avoid the downpour. Our spirits were lifted by one of our group who began to gleefully scale a huge mound of quarried stone whilst being unsuccessfully pursued by a member of IRMS.

At this time it seems appropriate to highlight the dangers of using a high-powered water cannon against anyone on high ground. Had any of of us been knocked of, or slipped, we could have been seriously injured. One of our team attempted to block the truck before it sprayed us and was nearly run over by an aggressive driver in the process.

Eventually they stopped with the coming of the guards and our realisation that every piece on the chessboard had been knocked off by the water, bar one pawn, the symbolism of which was not lost on us. After getting a warning, we left.

M - RSC

Scaling tree cutters and trees to halt Corrib pipeline works
 Monday January 09,

Shell today began to cut down a Coillte plantation in the village of Leenamore, Co. Mayo. This surprise move marks the beginning of their attempts to prepare the 4km stretch of land between the Aughoose tunnelling compound and the Bellanaboy refinery. Despite a large Garda and private security presence, campaigners entered the tree felling area and halted work.

Shell starting this section of the pipeline was completely unanticipated both by local campaigners and those of us living at Rossport Solidarity Camp. Rumour had it that the clearing of the plantation might not happen until later in the year. As it happened many of us had planned to take the day off actions today to tend the camp gardens, carve new wind turbine blades, bake bread and work on other projects. The day turned out quite different to how we planned...

When we arrived at Leenamore at 11am we saw that they were cutting down trees at two different sections of the road and setting up a machinery storage compound. There was a heavy Garda presence including members of the public order unit with no number tags. There were twenty Gardaí and at least fifty of Shell’s private security IRMS attempting to guard the tree line. There was seven of us, basically meaning we were outnumbered by about 10 to 1.

A few of us tried to get over the fence or into the trees to prevent the tree cutting from happening. Five of us succeeded in breaching lines of security to impede work at different times. Some of us were carried back over the barbed wire fence by security guards. The security guards had real difficulty in removing us from the area as the ground was extremely uneven and boggy. They kept stumbling as they carried us out and it was really dangerous for the security themselves. The Gardai were standing out on the road and wouldn’t let us stand on the road.

After trying to get in over the fence along the road a few times, several campaigners broke away to try to enter from further away and disappeared in the woods.

To everyone’s delight, one campaigner reappeared about an hour later, on top of a tree-cutting digger. Another campaigner, also reappeared a hour later, without his trousers! His explanation was that the ski-suit he had been wearing had been causing rustling as he approached security lines so eventually he had to resort to removing them and run in his thermals to make it to climb a tree that was in the path of Shell’s destruction. As a newcomer to the camp, this is his experience of trying to stop Shell in his own words;

“I arrived at the camp a few days ago. It’s my first visit. I spent the first day helping to block lorries and got a good chance ot be active against Shell’s destruction. This morning everyone was surprised that Shell were starting work on the forest. A few of us went away to come at the machinery from another angle. We crawled through the woods towards the area they were cutting slowly. As were crawling towards the digger I darted off left. All the security were shouting ‘hold the line’. I kept running until a group of security broke away from a group at the road and started running after me. I ran back into the woods with them running behind me shouting, so I went to ground and hid for 20 minutes. Then crawled down a bit and looked up to see where they were and they were all around me. I had to run accorss a big gap where they could all see me and into another patch of woods. With them all running behind me I got into the trees again. I reached the first suitable tree to climb just to the right of the tree-cutting-digger. By the time I was up the security guards had run past me but couldn’t see me. Fifteen or twenty of them were below filming and wandering around. They shouting at me, things like ‘are you going to come down?’ and ‘Chop him down!’. I climbed right to the top to see where the digger was. I swung to another tree and then to another to get a bit closer to the digger as it moved. I stayed up for about 45 minutes as the digger broke up the trees beside me. The security guards started to get more and more angry with me. They started shaking the tree and getting sticks. I said, ‘I’m really going to want to come down with you doing that!’. I negotiated with them to let me come down safely and agreed that one of them would escourt me out of the woods. I met up with the other campers and camp back to get a cup of tea and some food. A few local people called in to catch up with us. I feel good to be here to so far. I’ve met some good people. I found it good to be doing actions with energetic people who have been fighting this campaign for a long time.”

The other camper up on the tree-cutter stayed up to stop work until 6.30pm before coming down. This camper reported that one of the IRMS security supervisors that had been running after him in the woods, as he got to the tree-cutter, had injured his ankle and had eventually been stretchered off the site. The campaigners were not arrested as the cutting was happening on private land.

New camp members are always welcome and even if you don’t feel like crawling around in the woods in your first few days there is plenty of other things to do...

Rossport Solidarity Camp is calling for support in advance of this coming Friday the 13th of January. Friday is the first Day of Solidarity of the new year, when people from around Ireland are invited to join the protests for a day to show their support for the ongoing resistance to the Corrib Gas Project. 

 by TnT - Rossport Solidarity Camp 

Shell's tree cutting disrupted for second day running

Disruption to the felling of the Coillte woodland for Shell's planned onshore pipeline (along with the stopping of haulage trucks to the Aughoose compound), continued today as protestors intercepted a specialist 8-track tree felling machine between the Aughoose tunnelling compound and Leenamore forest.

Truck & tree-cutter

A Barrett's truck transporting the machine was halted as it made the 1km journey at 7am this morning by a small band of merry protestors, one of whom quickly ascended the arm and settled into position as a lone Garda looked on. Several more Gardaí soon came to join her supported by a large number of IRMS staff who have been positioned along the road by the forest since yesterday. 

As a wintery dawn broke over the beseiged bog the Gardaí “removal” team arrived along with their “transporter”, driven by Sgt Aidan Gill, who then proceeded to initiate Garda attacks on the gathering supporters, in the name of health and safety. 

Following some hasty positioning of 'crash-mattresses' and blankets (!!) on and around the machine an attempt was made to remove the protestors, only for the Gardaí to discover that the protestor had D-locked her neck to the machine. 

In an extraordinarily reckless move, the Gardaí then decided to use an angle grinder just millimeters away from the protestors' head, all to enable the continuation of Shell's work for the day. 

However the delay of 3 & 1/2 hours to the tree felling had also thwarted all deliveries of stone and removals of peat at the Aughoose compound as the driver of the truck carrying the machine had been swerving so much, as to end up preventing the passage of any other trucks on the road. 

After being taken down the protestor was arrested and charged and is due to appear in Belmullet court along with 4 other campaigners. 

Later on in the evening another protest was called for outside Bellanaboy, however it seems the latest activity has resulted in a further increase in the amount of Gardaí loitering in the area. About 15 Gardaí were immediately on hand and so not too many trucks were stopped in the evening. 

Rossport Solidarity Camp is calling for support in advance of this coming Friday the 13th of January. Friday is the first Day of Solidarity of the new year, when people from around Ireland are invited to join the protests for a day to show their support for the ongoing resistance to the Corrib Gas Project.

 by JC - RSC 

All these reports were first published on indymedia.ie

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