As I write this, the camp has just held a very successful gathering with over fifty people coming to the area to learn about the issues and contribute to the building of the camp. More people are coming to the camp all the time and we will soon play host to another major visit, with students from NUI Galway coming up at the end of the month. Rossport Solidarity Camp was originally set up in June 2005, as a space for people to travel to Erris to play a direct role in the struggle. Having the camp is important, as the area has a low population, and so getting more people to the coalface of resistance is crucial.
Although getting little corporate/state media coverage at the moment, the Shell to Sea campaign continues to widen and deepen its resilient blockade of Shell and the state.
On March 12th, former prisoners Vincent McGrath and Micheál ó Seighin, were given the honour of being grand marshals of the San Francisco St.Patrick’s Day parade.
In early February the camp went on a highly successful speaking tour of Britain, following on from one in October, and there will be more public meetings in Britain in April.
On January 27th one camper spoke about the Shell to Sea campaigner at a meeting at the World Social Forum in
To mark the start of the re-opening of the camp, on the weekend of the 17th and 18th of February protests were held in London, Nottingham, Sweden, Amsterdam, Cork, Clare, Kerry, Mayo and Dublin.
Also in February prominent Shell to Sea campaigner and local school teacher Maura Harrington was subjected to an attempt at intimidation, when her car was tailgated from the weekly Shell to Sea meeting, by a carload of young men, driving without lights, number plates or tax or insurance discs. After this car was cornered and the police called it transpired the driver was a security guard employed by Shell.
Pickets are continuing to be maintained on the refinery construction site in Ballinaboy, as they have been since June.
Shell’s main activity at the moment is in ‘public relations’.
They have been attempting house visits near the site of the new camp, buying advertising in the local press, and have hired Christy Loftus, formerly of The Western People newspaper for this sort of work.
On January 25th, in a PR move that went badly wrong non-executive directors of Shell came to Erris to meet the “Pro Erris Gas Group”, aka PEGG, satirically re-worked in posters to ‘Protect Erris from Greedy Gombeens’. This group, drawn from the petty rural establishment, is the voluntary sector of Shell’s program to recruit local collaborators.
The meeting however, supposedly organised to give voice to community concerns, was reclaimed by residents.
Many Shell to Sea campaigners turned up uninvited to tell Shell, in forthright terms, that they will not be building their refinery and pipeline.
Shell have also hired John Carey, who retired last year as Chief Superintendent of the Mayo Garda Division, as an “advisor”.
Rossport Solidarity Camp welcomes more support always. You can come to stay on the camp for hours, days, weeks or months, and take part in picketing, building and learning.
But the camp can only function with logistical, financial and promotional support from around the country and overseas. More details of how you can help can be found on our website www.struggle.ws/rsc/ or by phoning Tracey at 0035387 6543425 or Micheal 0035386 3588890.
While Rossport may be remote and isolated, what is happening there isn’t. We have made considerable attempts to link in with other struggles, because there is only one struggle. A row of white crosses stand across from the main gate at the proposed refinery site in Ballinaboy, in stark silent reminder of Shell’s crimes in Nigeria. In early March a group from the Saving Iceland campaign, opposing a massive dams and aluminium smelters development, visited here; and the verdict was it is the same, the same lies, the same duplicity, the same bullying.
Shell to Sea campaigners recently visited Ringaskiddy, Cork, home of a battle against a toxic waste incineration project. We have also seen the same courts that imprisoned the Rossport Five imprison the Ballybrack Three. Many Mayo Shell to Sea campaigners travelled to Dublin to support Irish Ferries workers opposing the untrammelled rule of big business.
In an Irish Times article Fianna Fail (main ruling party) advisor Martin Manseragh, commenting on the battle against Shell, wrote:
“Decisions on the exploitation of natural resources, and valid law
and procedures to be followed by foreign companies, cannot be left to be
determined by default by local agitation..” and that
the government must:
“redress the usurpation of its authority
to deal with third parties outside the State.”.
That is our choice who will have the say, and make the decisions, ordinary working people, or IBEC’s government.
(IBEC being the equivalent of the CBI).