Local Erris fishermen, Pat, Tony, Martin, and Jonathan O’Donnell, have been guaranteed protection at sea by gardaí through the presence of a Garda vessel and the issuing of an exclusion zone around the fishermen’s boats.
Earlier in the week the fishermen called for state protection and outlined in a letter which was sent to Superintendent Michael Larkin, of Belmullet Garda Station, to “demand State protection for our boats and lives before a fatality occurs”, due to the “number of Shell-contracted vessels that may be operating in the same area as ourselves, giving rise to a number of safety concerns”.
In a statement issued by Mayo Shell to Sea on Wednesday it emerged that gardaí will protect the fishing boats through the presence of a Garda vessel and the gardaí have issued a 500 metre exclusion zone around their boats.
The community have also made calls for an independent inquiry into the sinking of Pat O’Donnell’s boat the Iona Isle, and for a meeting with the Minister for Justice to “discuss the safety and security issues arising from Shell's imposition of a very large force of security upon the community”.
Pat O'Donnell said: “It's great that the danger being faced by people who'll stand up to Shell is finally being recognised. I've talked about how this situation is going downhill, and I was proven right again when my boat was sunk. The Solitaire will be arriving soon, but my family has been fishing this bay for five generations, and we won't let our livelihood be destroyed by Shell — now it's up to the gardaí to make sure that our rights are protected.”