Shell to Sea campaigner Niall Harnett jailed for 6 months


Shell to Sea campaigner Niall Harnett was sentenced at Ballina on Wednesday to six months in Castlerea prison for protests against Shell's proposed experimental pipeline.  The sentence arose from Niall going to the aid of another Shell to Sea campaigner during a 'Reclaim the Beach' protest in 2008.  He also had a five month sentence confirmed by the court – these sentences will be served concurrently. Mr Harnett further had a two year driving ban affirmed. 

Mr Harnett is a long-time Shell to Sea campaigner, who has lived in Erris for the past three years. His jailing, joining that of Pat O'Donnell who has been imprisoned for 71 days at this point, further highlights the criminalisation of the members of the Shell to Sea campaign for their legitimate opposition to the dangerous Corrib gas project. Meanwhile, a section of pipeline that has been ruled to be without planning by An Bord Pleanála, remains intact and uninvestigated.

Shell to Sea spokesperson Terence Conway stated: “This jailing is as a result of Shell's attempts to force this project on the area without community consent, pure and simple. Despite An Bord Pleanála's[1] finding that the project in its current form poses 'an unacceptable risk' to the health and safety of the local community, the project continues – and we are obliged to protest against it.”

He added: “Niall Harnett is a man of principle who has refused to accept that powerful interests always get their way. For this, he has been targeted and criminalised. This criminalisation has come about to cover up the Human Rights abuses by Shell and the Gardai, that have been suffered by people in this area[2] HR BLOG. Niall deserves better than this, the community deserves better than this, and the people of Ireland deserve better than the wholesale giveaway of our natural resources.”