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Shell to Sea Occupy Dublin Department of Natural Resources

26/05/10

In the DepartmentFour Dublin Shell to Sea activists occupied the Twenty-Six County Department of Communications, Marine and Natural Resources on Friday [May 21].

The four chained themselves to the stairwell of the building in an act of solidarity with imprisoned Erris fisherman and prominent Shell to Sea activist Pat O’Donnell who was spending his 100th day in prison. The action in the capital was part of a national day of protest organised by Shell to Sea, with events in Cork and an occupation of the Shell Oil offices taking place in Mayo.

Pat O’Donnell is currently serving a seven month sentence in Castlerea Prison, having been convicted, on spurious grounds, of obstructing a guard. In the months leading up to his imprisonment, O’Donnell was subjected to a sustained campaign of harassment, both from Gardaí and Shell’s private security firm I-RMS. In the most serious incident last June, four masked men boarded O’Donnell’s fishing boat, held him and his crewman, and proceeded to sink the boat. Both men were lucky to escape with their lives.

Within minutes of Friday’s occupation being staged, several Garda cars and over a dozen Gardaí arrived outside the building. While, initially, the guards did not interfere with the protestors and seemed to accept that this was a peaceful and symbolic protest, after about one hour, a number of Gardaí entered the building with bolt cutters and proceeded to cut the chains from the activists.

All four were arrested under Section 8 and 9 of the Public Order Act and taken to Harcourt Terrace Garda station where they were held for a number of hours. While the four were being taken away a large crowd began to gather for a protest at the nearby Shell offices on Lower Leeson Street.

Dublin Shell to Sea spokesperson Caoimhe Kerins, who was herself arrested, said: “Friday’s action was a symbolic show of solidarity with our imprisoned colleague and valued member of the Erris community Pat O’Donnell. Pat’s only ‘crime’ has been to stand up for the rights of community and defend their right to live in peace and safety.”

éirígí chairperson Brian Leeson extended solidarity to O’Donnell: “It is very clear that, in Irish society, there is one law for the rich and another for the rest of us. Pat O’Donnell has now spent 100 days in prison for defending his community and is to be commended for his bravery and integrity.

“Meanwhile, the rich bankers and developers who brought the economy to its knees are free to swan around the world on sunshine holidays. It is a damning indictment of this society that, while the prisons are bursting at the seams with working class people who cannot afford to pay the fines imposed upon them by the courts, parasites like Seán Fitzpatrick and Michael Fingleton, who screwed the taxpayer for millions, remain at liberty.

“The manner in which the Dublin government has dealt with the Corrib issue is an absolute scandal, infused with corruption, greed and abuse of power. The people of Erris have been treated shamefully by all agencies of the state. They have regularly faced the blunt force of state repression, with people beaten and harassed by the Gardaí and Shell’s mercenaries in I-RMS, while currently Pat O’Donnell and Niall Harnett are languishing in prison. On behalf of éirígí, I would like to send solidarity greetings to both Pat and Niall and vow our continued support for the campaign to send Shell to Sea. The people of Erris have paid a heavy price for daring to challenge the might of the state and Shell, their struggle for justice has been an inspiration.”

Concluding, Leeson said: “The bottom line is the gas lying in the Corrib field belongs, as of right, to the people of Ireland. Those resources were handed over to multinational oil companies in a blatant act of economic treason, conducted by two of the most corrupt politicians ever to grace the Leinster House stage, Ray Burke and Bertie Ahern. Our natural resources should be nationalised and this wealth used to fund our public services.”

 

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