Important! Read this legal information if you're planning to come to Rossport.
All are welcome, open to complete beginners - no experience necessary! Accommodation & food provided, donations welcome. Call or text 08511 41170 for more details.
Shell started construction work on its highly controversial Corrib on-shore gas pipeline on 29 March, with a judicial review of the pipeline still outstanding and choosing the day that local Rossport activist Maura Harrington was due in court. The work was immediately resisted by people standing in front of and sitting on top of trucks, a lock-on by the compound gates and another blockade, all of which were dealt with violently by the gardai, causing some injuries. A security vehicle belonging to security firm IRM-S became another blockade when someone locked on underneath it all night, preventing work starting the following morning. (The murky world of IRM-S is exposed in the film The Pipe).
The following week's actions included removal of whole sections of Shell's 'bogmat' roadway and an 11 hour lock-on at the compound gate, preventing any vehicles from entering or leaving. As the lock-on was removed, more people moved in, extending the blockade. A further blockade the following day saw a Shell to Sea campaigner punched in the stomach by a garda (MY259). Meanwhile, the gardai have helpfully provided incriminating evidence about their activities and attitudes on an activist's video camera which they seized and left running before returning to its owner. The recording included gardai joking about threatening to rape activists, as well as arguing about whether or not they should bother to follow safety procedures when removing activists sitting on top of vehicles.
Read full article for background, current situation and links to reports on the newswire.
The Current Situation
This current work is the final attempt by Shell to drive a highly dangerous experimental unrefined raw gas pipeline through North Erris. Several other pipeline routes have been successfully resisted by the communities in Northern Mayo. This latest attempt in what Shell describe as the final proposal is worrying for a community which has experienced first hand Shell's poor safety record. Now Shell are taking the first steps in a two year project by attempting to fence off a large area at Aughoose. They intend to use this compound at the start point for a 5km tunnel that will run to the pipeline landfall at Glengad.
Shell is no doubt keen to act, given the almost daily criticism in the mainstream media of the terms of the deal they received from the Irish Government under the direction of Bertie Ahern and Ray Bourke. With a recent announcement in the UK that taxes on Oil and Gas production will rise, the Irish government is under ever increasing pressure to get a fairer deal for people in Ireland. This and the pending legal challenge are no doubt forcing Shell to hurry construction on the project which is already several years behind schedule.
The joint security from the Gardai and the secretive controversial private firm IRM-S is worrying. In 2009, Patrick O Donnell and Willie Corduff, who featured in the Film “The Pipe”, were violently attacked. The attack on Mr O'Donnell saw his boat sunk at sea by armed and masked men.
Shell chose the day to start construction carefully, when several campaigners were on their way to support Maura Harrington who has been summonsed for sentencing on charges that are now over a year old. This action is widely seen as blackmail by the State in an effort to end Mrs Harrington's resistence to the pipeline. The timing of Shell's actions suggests they are being provided with details of when court cases are happening. There have already been many arrests that have been timed to remove campaigners from the area at other key phases in the construction, most notably the 2008 and 2009 arrests of Pat O'Donnell while he worked at sea in order to allow the pipe laying ship the Solitaire to lay pipes across his fishing grounds.
On Thursday 20th January An Bord Pleanala announced their decision to approve the Shell high pressure raw gas pipeline. This is the last chance to resist the plan by the Irish Government, state bodies and Shell to force their will on communities and on the country as a whole, regardless of proper process, economic sense, people’s safety, environmental laws and human rights. The struggle against Shell is a struggle for everyone in Ireland and the world. You can be part of it.
Since late 2000 there has been an on-going attempt by multinationals and the Irish state to devastate a remote coastal area of county Mayo with a toxic refinery and a high pressure production gas pipeline. Since then there has been an ongoing struggle to keep Shell out of Mayo. Pickets, blockades, benefit gigs, demonstrations and speaking tours have been happening all over Ireland, the UK and beyond.
What are Shell’s plans?
The construction period is 28 months, probably starting around March 2011. Month 3 and 4 are the heaviest for construction traffic with 250 truck movements every day. However Shell could begin construction anytime from now by putting up fences to secure the compound in Aughoose and Glengad. The opportunity to prevent Shell from securing the Aughoose compound and delivering their tunnel boring machine to the site is now our best chance to stop the project. We must not let the opportunity go by, as once the tunnel boring machine has gone underground the work will be much harder to stop. We have until Thursday 17th March to put in an application for a Judicial Review. Even if this is successful it would not stop work immediately and so we need to stop it ourselves.
What you can do now
1. Come up to the camp! If you can only come up once this year, make plans to come up soon. Ideally come as soon as you get the call out that Shell are about to start work which will probably be within the next 2 months. Summer is the time loads of people come to resist Shell’s destructive work but this time Shell are planning to start work around March and this is the busiest time for traffic movements. If you are booking time off work, book time off in March now, there will be work to do every day in March. Ask your friends and all those you know have been involved in the campaign over the years to book time off also and make plans to come up.
2. We are getting ready to set up the new camp and need your help now, particularly with practical preparation and building work. The new camp requires people with carpentry and building skills. However if you don’t have these skills, please come because you can learn them.
3. Do a stall and leaflet your local town on Saturday 12th February. The Pipe film will be shown on television on Wednesday 9th February so lots of people will be interested in the campaign. We will have the new leaflet, stickers and posters and election questions ready for this, please email to be sent some.
4. Get in touch if you would like us to give a non-violent direct action workshop in your area, to prepare people to come up.
5. If you cannot make it up here at the moment, please get ready to come when you get the call out that Shell are about to start work. Solidarity actions at garages, government offices & subcontractors are other great ways of supporting the campaign, however immediately after the call out we will need you here in Mayo.
Please email firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 08511 41170 to let us know when you can come up and for latest updates.
Please share this information as widely as you can.
If you have ever wanted to take action, the time is now!
On the newswires: Work stopped as Gardai continue to endanger campaigners | Report from annual Good Friday walk | Gardai and IRMS work together against activists | Two tractor actions cause 4 hour delay in Shell's work | Gardai assault Shell to Sea campaigner | 'Give me your details or I'll rape you': the reality of Corrib policing | Shell's work disrupted for 12 hours | Rossport Solidarity Camp breaks up Shell transport lines | Shell's road torn up! | 4 actions on Shell's first day of work at Rossport | Work restarts in Mayo | TDs demand reversal of pipeline consents | SHELL starts work at Aughoose | Glengad blockaded | Rossport Solidarity Camp is Up! | Party Against the Pipe Festival | 20 security protect 3 Shell workers | Work stopped twice in two days | Rossport Solidarity Mayday Gathering | NVDA training weekend | Survey work stopped again | More disruption of Shell's survey work | Anarcha-feminist weekend at Rossport | 'The Pipe' film wins award and DeVito speaks out against SHELL | Survey work stopped in Aughoose | Solidarity action in Glasgow | €540bn banknotes distributed in Dublin by Shell to Sea | Corrib will pay no tax | Bristol: Bike powered protest: report | announcement | Solidarity action in London Old Street: 1 | 2 | 3 | Solidarity action in Edinburgh | Solidarity action in Bristol | Shell's survey work stopped | Shell given permission to complete gas pipeline
Rossport Solidarity Camp
I had visited the camp fleetingly twice before, but never stayed the night there. After the intensity of city life and fending off the insidious domination of capitalist culture, it felt so good to get off the bus from Dublin and then fall asleep in the deep peace and quiet, looking at the stars through the central window of a yurt.
While you might not go primarily to have an inspiring experience for its own sake, but rather to be in solidarity with the folks on the frontline, being there is undeniably uplifting. The camp is so well organised and responsibly run. You can sleep in the communal ‘bender’ (a kind of homemade tent made from bent over hazel rods, which has been in use in Ireland for more than 8,000 years) or pitch your own tent in the main camp, or if you prefer, in the ‘quiet zone’ 600 yards away where the ‘chill-out’ room is a Mongolian yurt, complete with wood-and-turf-burning stove (it’s so cosy!). The people from the community who gave talks or just hung out were open and friendly, which can't be easy all the time given the hundreds of visitors who come though.
The kitchen marquee was a busy place, and the co-ordinators of food kept it flowing! Three very substantial meals a day and unlimited apples in between. One morning a neighbouring woman dropped in enormous bags of scones - freshly baked, brown or white and raisiny! Someone produced butter, and tea was brewed endlessly outside with the Kelly kettle. You put your name down for cooking or doing dishes or other chores as and when you choose. When it comes to bathroom matters, you can choose from the sit-toilet, the better-for-the-bowels squat toilet, or the ‘aesthetically pleasing’ toilet (actually I thought they were all remarkably aesthetically pleasing – and as far as I could see, constructed mainly from recycled materials) – there were outdoor sinks and even a solar powered shower.
The wind generator and solar cells hum away all day charging up the bank of batteries, which powers the lights at night – and the sound system! (and I think you can charge up your phone/laptop but I’m not sure) At night the meeting-marquee is transformed into a dance hall and the beat rolls across the half mile of bog to the nearest neighbours – the IRMS men on duty at the site. If you prefer a quieter evening’s entertainment, on one night at least there were songs and stories, sitting on cushions in the yurt.
When it came to the action (described well here http://www.wsm.ie/c/shell-bog-road-rossport-solidarity-camp) there was a meeting in the marquee first in order to talk out the possibilities and different tactics and to express our hopes and fears and finally to reach consensus on what to do and how. It is totally up to the individual as to whether to participate or not, and it is totally valid to express your solidarity with the community by just spending time in the community and at the camp and not participating in the action. In planning the action it was also made very clear that there are varying levels at which people may wish to participate and that that is OK too. I found participating in the action tense to begin with, but ultimately with the support of my affinity group, empowering and joyous. Why yell at the TV or bitch about the bailouts when you can take action in support of a community that has taken enormous risks to stand up to an enormously powerful and evil corporation, and has alerted the public to the corrupt giveaway of our oil and gas worth potentially hundreds of bllions?
The raw people power was palpable. We outnumbered the security guards and police, and as a result, they were much less aggressive (than they had been some days previously when a similar trespass was made by a much smaller group – although when two IRMS men got one person on his own the day we were there, they were much more aggressive as shown at the link above). It felt good to trespass en masse and to dismantle a tiny part of Shell’s global operation. They made a number of attempts to stop us, unsuccessfully as shown at the above link.
After the action, there was another communal meal and a debriefing, then you could chill out with a lie down in your tent, some people were doing massage in the yurt, or just hang out on the sofa in the kitchen marquee and chat to whoever comes by. Talk out the tension, then dance it out that night.
The sense of solidarity, of people of goodwill gathering together from diverse backgrounds to find strength in numbers in the global battle against injustice, was palpable and strong, and is rare in modern Ireland. That’s not to sound cheesy or to gloss over the practical challenges that face both the campaign and the camp, which were openly discussed in some of the many workshops that took place in the sunshine, in the marquee or over food. It’s also not to ignore the situation of the local community, who have lived day after day with the stress of Shell’s presence amongst them with all of its attendant ills (detailed very well here http://www.shelltosea.com/content/now-you-are-talking-m...guage) for a decade now and who don’t have the luxury of hopping back on the bus to a home distant from the sharp end of the struggle.
The best part of the weekend for me and many others was the blessing of Pat O’Donnell’s new fishing boat, which was essentially a big party, with dozens of people from the local area, dozens more solidarity-campers, and many other supporters from other parts of the country all mixing together on a pier sticking out into the Atlantic from the northern end of Belmullet peninsula. The warm sun and the best of food and drink, all contributed too.
My last image of the camp is the people who were remaining behind waving us off as the bus moved slowly alongside the marquees. The sun was golden and their hands threw shadows behind them. They waved slowly but with joy. It was a quirkily powerful moment in a remarkable weekend, which remains frozen in time for me.
I would encourage anyone who is considering heading to the ‘Party Against the Pipe’ for the June bank holiday but unsure of whether to do so, to just jump in and book that bus! You will have the most interesting conversations, meet the finest of people, help to defend the most beautiful landscape, and all in the most eco-friendly way imaginable! You might even learn something new about yourself – for instance, for reasons that I cannot explain, it is good to be in a yurt!