Shell to Sea has called for two days of action this weekend starting today, Friday April 1, and tomorrow Saturday April 2, at Aughoose where members claim that Shell E&P Ireland has started construction work on a 5km tunnel which will go under Sruwaddacon Estuary. However Shell E&P Ireland in response to the accusations from Shell to Sea, issued a statement denying it had started tunnelling works and said it was only carrying out site investigation works in preparation for construction and they had not actually started construction works. The statement from Shell E&P Ireland stated: “Shell E&P Ireland Limited is currently carrying out site investigation work on its own land in Aughoose. This is in preparation for the start of construction work on the onshore pipeline.”
Shell to Sea also claimed that a number of protesters who had gathered to disrupt the works at the site on Tuesday were injured by gardaí and Shell E&P’s security personnel IRM-S. According to Shell to Sea: “Shell has begun work on its controversial tunnel under Sruwaddacon Estuary in north Mayo. Gardaí and security staff [began] attacking and injuring protesters within hours of work commencing on Tuesday morning. Several people received medical attention including one campaigner who has been referred to hospital with suspected broken ribs, as a result of an IRMS security guard stamping on the campaigner’s chest on the ground.”
The protest group also claimed to have stopped the works being carried out on the site for a number of hours after a campaigner locked herself to the underside of a vehicle at the entrance to the site at 6.30pm where she remained until she was removed at 9am the following day.
“Now is the time for supporters to come to Erris,” said Shell to Sea spokesperson Terence Conway. “Time is of the essence. As expected, Shell is starting with huge fortifications around its planned tunnelling compound in Aughoose. We need to stop them erecting these fences.”
The group also claimed that a number of their protesters were arrested at the scene and later released without charge by the gardaí. Superintendent Pat Diskin from Belmullet Garda Station confirmed to the Mayo Advertiser that there had been two people arrested at the scene, one male and a female, neither of whom was from the locality. He said they were arrested in relation to public order offences and that a file was being prepared for the Director of Public Prosecutions. The Superintendent also confirmed that the Gardaí would be well prepared for an influx of protesters over the weekend.
He also stated that while everyone has the right to protest peacefully, but so did everyone else have the right to go about their lawful business, and that his officers were only concerned that the law was not broken.
Shell to Sea makes submissions to UN in relation to human rights issues
This week Shell to Sea sent its submission to the United Nations Universal Periodic Review, which is due to review Ireland's human rights record in October 2011. In its submission Shell to Sea highlighted a number of alleged human rights abuses that it claims have been inflicted on campaigners over the 11 years of opposition to Shell's inland refinery.
As part of the submission, Shell to Sea stated that despite the fact some of the human rights abuses of campaigners at the hands of the gardaí have been documented by a number of human rights organisations, no repercussions to any gardaí have resulted. Despite the fact that the Corrib protesters are the biggest single source of complaints to the Garda Ombudsman, no garda has ever been brought to court or faced any punishment over his/her conduct.
The submission also highlighted that the Minister for Justice refused the request from the Garda Ombudsman to investigate the public order aspects of the Corrib protests. A Frontline Human Rights report stated that this creates “the impression that the State does not want the Garda Síochána held properly to account over the policing of the Corrib dispute”.