On Friday the 20th September, the pipe laying ship, the Solitaire, finally left Irish waters. During the ship's time in Ireland, Shell failed to lay any part of the offshore pipe line. The departure of the Solitaire is a massive victory for the Shell to Sea campaign. Resistance in the past six weeks has taken many different forms: fishermen preventing the ship's access to the bay by refusing to move from her path, site invasions by local people and the Rossport Solidarity Camp, numerous waterborne actions to prevent work by supporters from other parts of Ireland and further afield, national and international solidarity actions and finally, an 11 day hunger strike by local campaigner Maura Harrington, that continued until the ship left Irish waters. The events of the last 6 weeks have inspired not only those involved, but also many who witnessed them from afar, new links and friendships have been forged and many lessons learned. In the aftermath, the Shell to Sea campaign can clearly be seen to have been revitalized, both locally and nationally. It is unclear when the ship will attempt to return to Broadhaven Bay. It is possible it could still be this year if repairs are quick and a suitable weather window appears, or it may not be until next spring. However, while it may be uncertain exactly when the ship will return, what is certain, is that it will meet even greater opposition upon its next arrival. Come and be part of it! The Rossport community is calling on people everywhere to put pressure on Shell, Allseas (the company that owns the Solitaire) and Irish embassies to demand that the Solitaire leaves Irish waters immediately.
Newswire: rossport solidarity action at irish consulate | The Solitaire leaves the Bayr | Rooftop occupation of Shells offices in Belmullet | Update from 11th of September | Daughter of Shell to Sea hunger striker paddles out to Solitaire | Rossport Solidarity Action in London | Rossport Solidarity Demo in London on Monday!! | Son of Shell to Sea hunger striker assaulted and arrested |Support Maura Harrington on hunger strike | Irish Embassy targetted for Rossport in Berlin | Rossport: Solidarity Action in Brighton | Rossport: The Time is Now | Rossport update | Urgent Call Out: Mayo Needs You! Now Is The Time
Update from 24 September 2008 The press release that Shell put out to announce the departure of the Solitaire read as follows: Shell E&P Ireland Limited can confirm that the Solitaire will leave Killybegs today for a UK Port where deep water berthing facilities are available. The vessel will remain in port while a further assessment of factors including operational, technical and weather issues will be completed. Once this is done, a further statement about the 2008 offshore development programme will be made. This programme still requires a suitable weather window for successful completion. Separately, a special diving support vessel is being deployed to Broadhaven Bay tomorrow to assist in the salvage of the 12 metres long, 80 tonnes section of the Solitaire's pipe laying equipment. This piece of equipment, which became detached from the vessel last Wednesday (September 10th), is currently lying on the seabed in Broadhaven Bay, Co Mayo and will be removed and disposed of for safety and environmental reasons. Upon hearing that the ship had berthed in a UK port Maura Harrington ended her 11 day hunger strike. She released the following statement: I thank Divine Grace and the support of decent people everywhere that the Solitaire has left Irish territorial waters. The courage of 'the Chief', Pat O'Donnell and his son Jonathan, who fought to uphold their rights at sea, and the tenacity of local people, together with national and international support, in their quest for justice is a testament to what is best in all of us. Local people have borne the brunt of Shell's arrogance and Government neglect for the past eight years. Yet Corrib remains a national issue because the Government continues to put the profits of Shell before the needs of the Irish people. Any alternative location for the Corrib Gas infrastructure will not build new schools, new hospitals or contribute to the National Pension Fund. Until we the People benefit from what is rightfully ours, any attempt to extricate Shell and the Government from the mess that is Corrib remains doomed to failure. It is fitting that the latest episode in the Corrib debacle should occur on the anniversary (by day and date) of the landslides which devastated Glengad and the wider Dooncarton area in 2003. If Shell is capable of any rationality, now is the time for them to accept that they will never put a pipeline through Glengad. I believe that the Shell to Sea campaign gives hope to all who strive for an Ireland that cherishes all its people equally and upholds values that don't carry a price tag. Keep updated with what's going on in Rossport by looking at www.indymedia.ie/mayo and www.corribsos.com . Significant updates will also be posted on UK Indymedia.
Now is the time to come to Mayo to support the campaign. Check out the Rossport Solidarity Camp website for travel and accommodation info.
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