The Shell to Sea campaign has already kicked back into gear in the new year, motivated that 2007 will finally be the year when Shell is forced to refine the gas offshore. It would be wrong, however, to think that the holiday season has been a quiet, relaxing time for the community of Rossport threatened with the dangerous pipeline.The last week before Christmas saw a revival in the spirits and confidence of local people, matched by a re-escalation in Garda thuggishness, including further baton charges. On 19th January, 3 local men received heavy blows to the face. In spite of all this, the local people are no longer afraid of the police and their tactics.

Mainstream media attention is predictably gone from Bellanaboy and, if you are living elsewhere around the country, you'd be forgiven for thinking there was little happening on the roads around the Shell Corrib Gas Refinery Site. But, the pickets have continued every day since October 3rd, with numbers on the increase and a renewed sense of the urgent need to halt this project.

The coming months are of particular importance for the campaign. Shell will attempt to remove several hundred thousand cubic metres of peat from the refinery site. It is important to prevent the removal of the peat as stopping the project will become more difficult once construction proper has started. There are those who emphasise the importance of the coming general election as a means of bringing the issue into the public eye and believe it can be won by exerting pressure on politicians hoping to win seats in the Dail. However, none of the three biggest parties in the state (Fianna Fail, Fine Gael and Labour) support the Shell to Sea campaign. They comprise 79% of current TDs and are happy to see Shell exploit our natural resources without any benefit to the Irish people. So, playing the media game (as if the media were on our side!) and holding symbolic protests in order to apply political pressure will do nothing for the aims of Shell to Sea. What is needed is mass direct action rather than merely symbolic protests. We must physically stop the extraction of the peat so that this whole rotten project becomes untenable in its current form.

On February 16th 400 people marched through the area and later that morning about 100 of them returned and invaded the site, stopping work for several hours. This shows what can be done. Imagine what would be possible with much greater numbers.

This article is from Workers Solidarity No96, March April 2007

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