Shell Pipe-Laying Ship Arrives Under Navy Warship Escort

Date:

Warships and other Irish navy vessels today escorted the world's largest pipe-laying ship, the Solitaire, into Broadhaven Bay in north Mayo, where it will attempt to lay part of the offshore section of the Corrib Gas pipeline. The community around Shell's operations is now besieged and intimidated by hundreds of Gardaí, Shell security and naval vessels, all in the cause of giving away Irish gas to multinational companies.Irish taxpayers are now funding navy participation in an operation that would see tens of billions of euro worth of Irish gas handed over to Shell, Statoil and Marathon. This consortium can then either export the gas via the UK or sell it to Bord Gais at international market rates. The circle would be completed when Bord Gais sells the gas back to Irish taxpayers.

Caoimhe Kerins of Dublin Shell to Sea said: "Minister Eamon Ryan, who previously campaigned against the gas giveaway and inland refinery, has now sent in the navy to facilitate that giveaway of valuable resources and to assist in the assault by Shell and the Gardaí on a small rural community."

"Shell to Sea would like Minister Ryan to clarify whether there is any precedent for the use of the navy in such circumstances. Does this mean that some sort of state of emergency has been declared?"

"Harassment and intimidation by Gardaí and Shell security has reached a new level of intensity. Gardaí have dispensed with any pretence of being independent of Shell and are now systematically assaulting and arresting anyone who gets in the way of this project."

Meanwhile, Pat O’Donnell and three other fishermen have been guaranteed protection at sea by Gardaí while they are working in their fishing grounds at sea. They have also issued a 500 metre exclusion zone around their boats. This marks the first acknowledgement by the authorities of the dangers being faced by fishermen opposed to Shell’s inland refinery and high-pressure pipeline.

However this was pushed aside when Gardaí and the Navy entered two local fishing boats yesterday. Fisherman Pat O’Donnell was assaulted, and had to be taken from his boat by the Lifeboat. His boat was commandeered by Gardaí. Jonathan O’Donnell was arrested from a separate boat and his boat was also commandeered by Gardaí. The fishermen were arrested for allegedly ‘loitering’ while in their workplaces. The arrests appear to have taken place to facilitate the arrival of the Solitaire.

Shell can not legally force the fishermen to move from the area as they have constitutionally enshrined rights to fish this area.

In advance of the Solitaire's arrival in Mayo waters:

* Hundreds of Gardaí have been drafted into the area.
* Scores of summonses have been issued to protestors in recent weeks, relating to protests going back over many months. Gardaí have been seeking to have bail denied to people on minor charges with no previous convictions.
* Senior Gardaí have been briefing crime correspondents about imaginary subversive and paramilitary elements supposedly involved in the campaign, resulting in sensational and unsubstantiated reports demonising the protests, with a view to softening up public opinion in advance of Garda brutality against protestors.
* Fisherman Pat O'Donnell's trawler was sunk by armed and masked men two weeks before the Solitaire's arrival. Under current legislation, Shell cannot compel fishermen to vacate fishing grounds during the pipe-laying.
* Shell has engaged in a heightened spin offensive, stressing the importance of jobs to the local region. However, the figures cited by Shell refer to construction jobs, which will continue for only a few months. If operational, the inland refinery would employ about 30 people.

When the Solitaire arrive in Broadhaven Bay in the summer of 2008, local school principal Maura Harrington began a hunger strike, which ended when the ship left after 10 days, citing unexplained damage to its pipe-laying equipment.

ENDS

News Release
Issued by Dublin Shell to Sea
Friday, 26th June, 2009
For immediate release

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