Shell 'safety' boat sinks kayak while detaining others on Broadhaven Bay


On 16th June Shell began the operation to lay an umbilical from landfall at Glengad to the Corrib Gas field. At 5pm, six kayakers from Rossport Solidarity Camp entered the waters of Broadhaven Bay, in order to protest against the imposition of the Corrib Gas project on the local community. The protest marks the beginning of two weeks of action against the project.

Almost immediately after entering the bay the kayakers progress was obstructed by six Shell security and safety boats. The security boats, staffed with IRMS, Shell's security personnel, then proceeded to grab hold of kayakers and their kayaks and detain them against their will. On some occasions kayakers were dragged by the security boats through the water, sometimes for up to 15 minutes. In a departure from previous years when Shell carried out work in Broadhaven Bay, no Gardaí were present at the scene.

At no time during the day was any legal authority cited for the detention of the kayakers besides a "request" by security that the kayakers leave the area. As one kayaker attempted to paddle out to the middle of Broadhaven bay, his hard-shelled kayak was rammed by the Shell safety boat; the Macbel operated by Belcross Enterprises, causing the kayak to capsize. The kayak then filled with water and sank after a short time. The kayaker then swam towards shore until he was picked up by a fellow kayaker. IRMS also temporarily seized paddles and a kayak from the group.

Rossport Solidarity Camp spokesperson Con Coughlan stated "We have seen Shell law operating on Broadhaven bay before however usually the Gardaí were present to implement Shell's bidding. This year Shell have been allowed to bypass even any pretense that they are operating within the law and are detaining peaceful protesters in public places for as long a they deem fit".

Con Coughlan continued "In March this year the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders called on the Irish government to promptly and impartially investigate all allegations and reports of intimidation, harassment and surveillance of Corrib campaigners. She also expressed concerns about the lawfulness of certain actions by the private security firm employed by Shell. The government has ignored the UN report and are allowing IRMS to continue to unlawfully detain peaceful protesters."

WORDS: Shell to Sea press release