State Repression Continues in Mayo


Local Mayo fisherman, Pat O Donnell, was sentenced to seven months in Castlerea prison in March for his role in campaigning against the Corrib gas pipeline and the corrupt deal that has given Shell access to Ireland’s gas fields. He has been consistently targeted by Shell and the Gardai, being falsely arrested on two occasions when Shell has attempted to carry out works in Mayo. This intimidation reached a pinnacle last summer when Pat's boat was boarded and then sank by four masked men. When he continued to stand up for his community, the state stepped in and imprisoned O’Donnell. He had the misfortune of living in the wrong place and not being part of the cosy cartel of businessmen, bankers and politicians who run this country.

Pat O'Donnell

Another prominent campaigner, Niall Harnett, was jailed for 6 months on April 21st after an incident when he came to the aid of another campaigner during a previous court sitting. His conviction was the only one secured during a weeklong special sitting of Belmullet District Court in March, when twenty-seven Shell to Sea activists were summonsed to face various charges. Twenty-five of those had their cases withdrawn or dismissed for a variety of reasons including unlawful detention and contradictory evidence from the Gardai, while another was given probation. The arrests and charges that followed in these cases were clear attempts by the State to repress protests against the project.

The controversy around the Corrib gas project is now entering its tenth year. The arguments that the Shell to Sea campaign put forward around control of our natural resources and the revenues from them are becoming even more relevant as the government argues that we have no choice but to cut spending on health, education etc. The communities in Mayo have said on countless occasions that they do not oppose the extraction of the gas but want it done in a safe way for the benefit of all and not just a few Shell shareholders.

The next step in this dispute is now uncertain. Shell has announced that no works will take place in Mayo this summer. However, as long as they still fail to understand people’s basic concerns in Mayo, resistance to the project in its current proposed format is likely to continue.

Write to Pat and Niall
Mr Pat O Donnell/Mr. Niall Harnett
Castlerea Prison
Co Roscommon