High-profile Shell to Sea campaigner Maura Harrington has vowed to continue her hunger strike until written confirmation is given that the Solitaire is out of Irish territorial waters. At the time of going to print yesterday evening (Thursday ) she was in her car at Glengad maintaining her protest.
The pipe laying vessel has left Broadhaven Bay to repair equipment on board which was accidentally damaged. It could be next year before the ship returns to recommence works at Glengad.
Ms Harrington said she would continue until confirmation is given about the length of time the repairs will take and to see if pipes are unloaded from the vessel.
Dublin Shell to Sea held a candlelit vigil last night at the Shell headquarters in Dublin to show their solidarity with Ms Harrington.
Tensions are escalating in Glengad with protesters setting up a constant vigil outside the gates of the Shell compound in support of Ms Harrington.
The primary school principal commenced the strike to coincide with the arrival of the Solitaire pipe-laying vessel in Broadhaven Bay. The vessel arrived on Tuesday evening but on Wednesday morning equipment was damaged. Shell have said they don’t know how this technical problem arose but the offshore pipelay programme in Broadhaven Bay has been suspended until a full assessment of the damaged equipment has been conducted at Killybegs.
In a letter that was handed into the Solitaire in Donegal on Monday Ms Harrington stated that her hunger strike will end in one of two ways, with either the Solitaire leaving Irish territorial waters or her death.
Meanwhile on Tuesday evening, the Garda Water Unit boarded three fishing boats and arrested the three fishermen who were attempting to safeguard their fishing gear which was in Broadhaven Bay. They were later released without charge.
On Wednesday a further two fishermen were arrested off the Mayo coast after their trawlers approached the Solitaire. One of the men, Pat O'Donnell, said he was exercising his constitutional right to fish in the area. A Garda spokesman said they were arrested for alleged public order offences arising from approaching the Solitaire. On Wednesday afternoon eight more people were arrested, three men and two women. They were released after questioning at Belmullet Garda Station.
Last Saturday at Pullathomas pier, the Shell to Sea fleet, which is engaged in protests against the laying of the off-shore pipeline, was blessed by the parish priest of Kilcommon.
An Garda Siochana have said they will continue to maintain a presence in the general Bellanaboy area as a consequence of the Shell operations currently being undertaken there.
The gardaí say their role is to ensure that persons who are engaging in lawful activities are allowed do so without interruption and the second is to allow those who wish to peacefully protest within the law do so unimpeded.