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Great Gas Robbery Highlighted

11/09/08

Stop ShellThe crisis has reached boiling point in the ongoing struggle between a small Irish community in Mayo and the ruthless multinational giant, Shell. There have been a number of dramatic twists this week in what is one of the most important struggles between community and state over natural resources in recent history.

Shell Oil and the Twenty-Six county government have been shrouded in controversy in recent years over the decision to sell off billions of euro worth of natural gas, located off the west coast of Ireland, in a shady deal that has no benefit to the Irish population.

The criminality of these actions is compounded by the ever-increasing gas bills in Ireland, leading to thousands of deaths by ‘fuel poverty’ every year. The community in Mayo has been fighting back throughout.

Shell was, yesterday, forced to suspend the latest stage of its unpopular refinery project in the area – the laying of underwater piping – and the Solitaire ship that was commissioned for the work was withdraw from Broadhaven Bay.

However, the notorious oil company has said that work will resume once the ‘technical difficulties’ it claims to have encountered are resolved.

The SolitaireThe arrival of the Solitaire ship in the Erris area prompted a period of frenetic activity, including sizable peaceful protests, Gardaí arrest operations and the decision by local school principal Maura Harrington to embark on a hunger-strike. Click here to hear an RTÉ interview with Maura.

éirígí chairperson Brian Leeson committed éirígí’s ongoing support to the people of Mayo and the Shell To Sea campaign:

“The commendable opposition of residents in the Erris area to the latest stage of Shell’s attempts to pilfer Ireland’s gas reserves has once again highlighted the complicity of the Dublin government in this outrage.

“The arrival of two heavily armed naval vessels in the area to facilitate Shell’s work is unprecedented in relation to peaceful protests in the Twenty-Six Counties and brings government collaboration with Shell to a new level.

“Another disturbing development is the rumoured activities of British naval vessels in the area which the Gardaí so far deny.

“It should be the government’s role, as is so often claimed by ministers in Dublin, to represent the interests of its citizens, not those of a multinational company.

Maura Harrington“The decision of Maura Harrington to embark upon a hunger-strike shows the lengths to which people have been forced to go to in the absence of any protection from the institutions of the state in which they live.”

Brian continued: “Just yesterday, Age Action Ireland launched a campaign to draw attention to the fact that 2,000 older people in the Twenty-Six Counties could die this winter because they can’t afford to heat their homes.

“Fuel poverty in Ireland is on the rise because of the current economic crisis, meaning increasing numbers of people, both young and old, will have to make the appalling choice between going hungry or going cold – all of this in a so called ‘western civilisation’.

“Yet, in the midst of this disgrace, the natural gas which could potentially heat every home in the country is under the control of Shell Oil.

“The Corrib Gas field, and others like it, should be brought under state control and developed for the benefit of the Irish people. While the current inhabitants of Leinster House are unlikely to take such a courageous decision, the people of Erris and Shell To Sea activists across the country should continue their campaigning, as it is this campaigning which will make such a decision unavoidable in the long run.”

Updates on upcoming days of action and how you can help the Shell to Sea campaign will be regularly available on this site.

For more info on éirígí’s ‘We Only Want The Earth’ campaign click here.

 

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