Tensions in north Mayo have escalated once again with eight arrests over the weekend and one on Tuesday when a large number of protesters gathered for the summer Rossport Peace Camp. With the Solitaire due to arrive back in Mayo waters in the next month, the Rossport Solidarity Camp has taken up residence in Glengad in a bid to build up the resistance to Shell over the coming weeks and months. Mary Sweeney of the Rossport Solidarity Camp said: “Resistance in Mayo is building again. We’re expecting many waterborne activists from across Europe to arrive over the following weeks. The Solitaire will leave Irish waters once again with no pipeline laid.”
While Shell to Sea claim over 200 people from the local community and the Rossport Solidarity summer camp gathered at the weekend to attempt to dismantle Shell’s compound at Glengad, the gardaí have the figure at just over 100.
Seven men and one woman were arrested and brought to Ballina Garda Station for public order offences. Gardaí on duty in the area were backed up by the Public Order Unit who were confronted by the protesters. The eight have been charged and are due to appear before Belmullet District Court on June 10.
These actions came the day after Maura Harrington was released from jail for the non-payment of fines.
On Tuesday a man was arrested after dredging work in Broadhaven Bay was delayed by up to an hour. According to Shell to Sea the dredgers arrived in the bay on Monday evening and had been working continuously through the night. Two Shell to Sea protesters occupied a crane on the ‘Razende Bol’, one of the dredging boats preparing a channel for the off-shore pipeline in Broadhaven Bay. Work on the dredging was completely halted. The other dredger and its accompanying sea barge were moved out of the immediate area.
The same evening a group of 12 Irish Flotilla canoeists evaded the security powerboats and two police ribs protecting the works and reached the side of the vessel. They climbed aboard and gained access to the dredging arm where they sat for 10 hours. On Wednesday they ended their protest.
IBEC West Regional Director John Brennan has said the controversy surrounding the project has meant the regional and national significance of the project is being overlooked.
“Ireland is 90 per cent dependent on imported gas. Power plants fuelled by natural gas generate more than 60 per cent of our electricity. This makes us highly reliant on gas supply from other countries. Ireland is at the end of a very long supply chain, which exposes us to risks of supply interruption and price volatility. If anything were to occur that disrupted this supply, we would have a serious energy crisis in this country. Many tend to overlook the fact that the Corrib gas field will supply up to 60 per cent of Ireland’s gas needs at peak production,” Mr Brennan outlined.
EU North West candidate Fiacra Ó Luain has offered his support to the protesters saying he will defend them in anyway he can. He challenged the other candidates in today’s election to make public their policies with regard to Ireland’s off-shore oil and gas.
All this comes in the same week that TV3 aired a documentary by journalist Paul Williams about the Corrib controversy. In it Fr Kevin Hegarty highlighted the financial investment the Shell project has brought to Erris while adding that the protesters only represent one per cent of the local community. Paul Williams himself and Chief Superintendent Tony McNamara spoke of the paramilitary style damage that was caused at the terminal this year. Dublin Shell to Sea have dubbed the documentary as “shockingly biased”.