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éirígí activists take part in Ballinaboy occupation


More then a dozen éirígí activists took part in Friday’s occupation of the site of Shell’s proposed refinery in Ballinaboy, Co Mayo. The temporary occupation of the site took place after an early morning protest organised by ‘Shell to Sea’ had dispersed. Upwards of 120 people entered the site via the route of the controversial pipeline. Entry to the site was made all the easier for the protesters by walking along a ‘road’ of wooden sleepers built by Shell for the purpose of laying the pipeline.

All work within the compound was stopped, on health and safety grounds, as soon as Shell became aware of the fact that there were in excess of 100 protesters walking through the site. This is the first time that work on the site has been halted since Shell re-commenced work on site in October 2006.

Having stopped work on site for up to an hour the protesters left via the front gates of the compound, to prolonged applause from supporters who had assembled outside. The decision to leave the site was taken as dozens of Garda reinforcements arrived, presumably to forcibly remove the protesters.

Commenting on the occupation éirigi chairperson Brian Leeson commended those who had taken part in the occupation ‘It takes a lot of courage to deliberately put oneself in a position where you could suffer personal injury or arrest. Given the Garda track record over the last few months both of these scenarios were probable once we entered the Shell compound. Despite these risks well over a hundred people entered the site’.

Brian went on to refute Shell’s claims that the protesters vandalised equipment and intimidated workers. ‘We remained together as a group for the duration of the occupation and I can say without any doubt that no equipment was damaged nor were any workers intimidated. Shell and the Gardai were caught napping on Friday and they are now attempting to portray what was a legitimate peaceful protest into some sort of criminal enterprise. If equipment was damaged or workers intimidated why weren’t the perpetrators arrested?’

Brian concluded by encouraging others to become involved in the campaign to protect Ireland’s natural resources. ‘On Friday we shut Shells operation down for a couple of hours. The challenge now is for all progressive groups and individuals to work together to shut it down permanently. The Dublin government have repeatedly demonstrated that they have no interest in protecting our natural resources, so it now falls to the people of Ireland to do it.’

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