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Rally for Pat O’Donnell

26/03/10

Pat O'Donnell and Maura HarringtonA national demonstration will take place at Castlerea Prison tomorrow, March 27, in support of jailed fisherman Pat ‘the Chief’ O’Donnell.

Pat was jailed for seven months on February 11 for his continued opposition to Shell’s project in Rossport, having been dragged in front of the courts on several previous occasions.

Pat is one of many campaigners standing up to the might of the multinational corporation who have been criminalised by the Twenty-Six county state since the controversial refinery plan was imposed upon their community.

This week, twenty-seven Shell to Sea campaigners are due to appear before a special sitting of Belmullet district court in Mayo. Already one man, Niall Harnett, has been sentenced to five months imprisonment, though he was later released pending an appeal.

Several of the more spurious charges have been withdrawn, while a ruling that one man, Eoin Lawless, was held unlawfully by the Gardaí, led to eight other cases being withdrawn by the State.

Seven of the nine who had been unlawfully detained were subsequently remanded in prison by Judge Mary Devins, the wife of TD Jimmy Devins, who as reported previously (éirígí slam Devins hypocrisy over Corrib gas controversy) is set to benefit financially from Shell’s exploitation of the Corrib gas field.

Speaking after the past few days of hearings, Shell to Sea spokesperson Maura Harrington said: “Today the unbalanced policing of Shell's operations in Erris has been exposed in court. The treatment of campaigners over the last five years has amounted to extra-judicial punishment.”

Despite this recent victory, Pat O’Donnell remains imprisoned at the behest of Shell, with the likelihood that more could join him soon.

Sligo éirígí activist Gerry Casey said: “Pat's real crimes are not the politically motivated offences for which he was convicted. His real 'crime' is his continued defiance in the face of a concerted campaign of intimidation against himself and other opponents of Shell's planned pipeline by the so-called forces of law and order in this state on Shell's behalf. Many have been jailed and have suffered assault as a result of their opposition to this pipeline. Indeed, Pat has been assaulted on numerous occasions, has been repeatedly harassed and arrested by Gardaí and has his fishing boat sank by armed and masked thugs.

“As Pat O Donnell enters his second month unjustly imprisoned at the behest of Shell, éirígí want to re-iterate our demand for his immediate release. We also pledge our ongoing support for the community of Rossport and surrounding areas in their struggle against the oil giants Shell, a multi-national company with an appalling human rights and environmental record worldwide.”

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