The actions of protesters in blocking “necessary equipment” to help the removal of a truck carrying the part of a giant tunnel boring machine that became stuck at a rural crossroads in north Mayo on Tuesday morning, could slow down the removal of the truck, according to Mayo County Council.
A spokesperson for the council told the Mayo Advertiser yesterday: “We're trying our best to work out the best option to get the situation solved with the contractor. The issue is being complicated by the blocking of necessary equipment getting to the scene by protesters so that could lead to further delays in getting the situation sorted.”
On Wednesday evening a crane which was being brought to the scene to assist with recovery was unable to get through after it was blocked by protesters near Ballinnaboy Bridge. Protesters climbed on top of the crane to stop its progress to the incident.
When asked whether they could give a time frame as to when the truck would be removed from it's current location, the spokesperson said: “I really can't give a definite time frame on how long it will take, because it depends on getting the necessary equipment brought in by the contractor and if protests delay that, it could scupper any time frame we say.”
The council has managed to get a temporary road in place at the scene so that traffic can get by the blockage, which was a priority according to their spokesperson. “We have a temporary widening of the road in place, so there is access for all vehicles to get by the scene there. We have double checked and triple checked to make sure that especially emergency service vehicles can get by, because that was a serious concern of everybody early in the week.”
Questions had also been raised earlier in the week about this convoy using roads that were not the haulage routes, but the necessary permits had been obtained previously according to the council. “Permits were granted in accordance with normal procedures, to cover this haul, because it was an irregular load and wasn't going to be using the normal haulage root. And permits were granted in accordance to that.”
Protests followed convoy from Dublin to Mayo
The convoy carrying the section of the giant tunnel boring machine left Dublin port on Sunday where a small number of protesters had gathered to protest as it left the port. It then made its way across the country, where on Monday night Shell to Sea organised a protest in Ballina against it.
Another protest was staged in the early hours of Tuesday morning at Bellacorick, where it was reported that Maura Harrington blocked the road with her car as the convoy tried to make its way through. The drama begun to unfold on Tuesday morning when it emerged that the truck had slipped off the road at the junction of the L1203 and R312 at the Glenamoy crossroads. According to Shell to Sea, four people were arrested for public order offences on Tuesday at the scene, and on Wednesday Rossport Five veteran Willie Corduff was also arrested near the scene of the jack-knifed Shell lorry.
Lack of consultation concerns local councillor
Local Sinn Féin councillor Rose Conway Walsh said that she was appalled by the lack of consultation as regards to such a large load being transported. “The lack of consultation about the transporting by road of this exceptional heavy convoy is appalling. I can categorically state that neither Shell or Mayo council consulted me as a local councillor about the transporting of this 172 tonne tunnel boring machine. Had I been consulted, the first question I would have asked is has the carrying capacity of the route been assessed by Mayo County Council and what health and safety plan has been put in place.”