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Shell’s fences taken down and returned to sender!

13/10/07

The daily protest at the gates of Shell’s proposed Corrib gas refinery in Ballinaboy, Co Mayo swelled in size yesterday as dozens of supporters from across the country joined members of the local community in demanding an end to construction on the site.  Natural resource protesters, environmentalists and concerned citizens travelled from as far afield as Belfast and Cork to show their opposition to Shell’s government-backed plans for the scenic Erris peninsula.

As ever, at such protests, the Gardai were also out in strength.  More than one hundred uniform members of the force and dozens of members of the notorious Gardaipublic order unit were on hand to facilitate Shell’s robbery of an estimated fifty billion euro worth of Ireland’s natural gas reserves.  Amongst this sizeable force a handful of ‘special’ political police lurked, directing the work of those gardai tasked with videoing and photographing those who would dare to challenge the might of private corporations.

Shell too had beefed up its security operation with a noticeably larger number of private security goons visible inside the compound, many of whom wore large darkened glasses or nylon stockings on their heads to disguise their appearance.

All of this increased security was no doubt a response to the major site incursion of Sept 14th when more than one hundred natural resource protesters were able to breach Garda and Shell security and gain access to the site.

As has been the pattern of previous ‘days of action’ protesters and the Gardai and Shell’s security personnel yesterday played a game of ‘cat and mouse’ with the protest extending for hundreds of meters along the ‘oil road’.  Small groups of protesters attempting to block vehicles entering the site were quickly and viciously removed by Gardai from the road.

And as with previous ‘days of action’ when one tactic of protest was denied another was innovated.  While weight of numbers of Gardai at Ballinaboy might have prevented an effective blockade there was no such problem at Pollathomais where a number of local people set about taking down a section of fencing that Shell had erected on a local farmers land.  The landowner had originally given permission for a track of his land to be enclosed on the basis that it may form part of a route for a standard Bord Gais pipeline.  When it became apparent that the pipeline in question was in fact an experimental, high pressure raw gas line permission was withdrawn.

Illegal fencingOnce the fencing, complete with wooden posts, was taken down it was quickly loaded onto a tractor and trailer before being transported to Shell’s Ballinaboy site.  Following discussions with Shell -who refused to take back their fence - and the Gardai - who threatened prosecution for littering – the fencing was dumped on the ground outside of the Shell site.

Speaking at the protest éirígí spokesperson Brian Leeson praised the actions of local people.  ‘Today members of the local community deconstructed a small section of Shell’s infrastructure in Mayo.  It may only have been one small fence today but everything has to start somewhere.  Hopefully the rest of Shell’s fencing and construction will soon follow.  Shell’s operation in Ireland is a direct attack on the well-being of not just the people of Erris and Mayo but also all of the people of Ireland'.

Brian continued by commenting on the Garda operation ‘We have scores of Gardai here today protecting one of the worlds most destructive and ruthless corporations.  At the last day of action the Gardai were caught with their trousers down when protesters managed to disrupt work on-site.  It is quite obvious that their political masters in Leinster House have issued orders to ensure that Shell’s rape and plunder be allowed to continue apace without disruption'.

In conclusion Brian urged people to attend the next day of action in Mayo; ‘On November 10th 1995 the Nigerian government executed Ken Saro-Wiwa and a number of comrades because they darReturn to sender!ed to challenge the giveaway of Nigeria’s oil reserves to Shell.  On November 10th 2006 the Gardai kicked, punched and batoned people off the ‘oil road’ to make way for Shell’s lorries.  The Gardai and the Dublin government believe that they can physically beat people into submission in return for crumbs from Shell’s table.  The next day of action is scheduled for November 9th.  It is then that that we will know whether they are right or wrong'.

‘éirígí is asking everyone who cares about what is going on in Mayo or about the wider issues of the giveaway of our natural resources to get to Ballinaboy on the morning of November 9th'.

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