Yesterday, thirty activists, including an international presence, took the Shell compound at Aughoose where they are doing preparation work for the controversial pipeline that will run high pressure gas through communities in North Western Ireland. Three individuals managed to make it onto machinery while others closed the main gain with a lock-on. The result was no work done for the entire day. Five people were arrested, all of whom are now released though some have been charged.
The action was done from the Rossport Solidarity Camp which currently occupies a field on the other side of the road from where Shell are working. Planning started the night before, people wanting to build on the regular actions that have been taking place over the last few months since the camp has been in place.
On Wednesday, there had been another, shorter occupation of the site during the day. However, in the wonderful way these things happen, a second visit to the site to do reconnaissance for Thursday's protest turned into an action in its own right...
So, Thursday, 7.30am – a large group of people move across the field to the road and begin breaching the compound at numerous places. They found a large, frankly scary looking lock-on dropped off in front of the main gates, despite the presence of fifteen security guards from IRMS trying to secure the access. Two people, “Bread” & “Jam” promptly made use of this gift to attach themselves to it.
People swarmed everywhere, making good use of their access as security locked themselves down in their central compound behind lines of harris fencing, though that was no obstacle. Indeed, the only work that Shell did today was building a sorry pile of mangled fences.
Numerous people made it through the lines of guards to occupy various machinery and structures, including the roof of the portakabins. Three clambered onto the drilling and digging machinery that the days' work would have depended on. Of these, one was lied to about not being arrested on coming down so other two, who were on the sampling drill and the large digger, remained there for the next nine hours. By that time victory was clearly in the hand of the protesters and they came down of their own accord.
In all this exuberance, all bar one of the windows of the house Shell own down the road decided to shatter in solidarity.
Meanwhile, back at the main road, the campers provided support to those locked-on. Police blocked off the road. The cutting team turned up at 10.15am and after a lot of head-scratching started cutting at 11am. The god of lock-on's had provided them a fair headache and it took another four hours before they managed to extract Jam. By the time that Bread was cut-out the lock-on had been in place for eight hours.
All five people arrested were taken to Belmullet Gardai station. The two who were locked on were charged with not following police instructions and for obstruction. The other three who were on the machinery were let go without charge for that, though one was subsequently re-arrested for a previous action. Support will continue.
In all, a fantastic day out, especially with the rain holding off until the action was over.
For more information on the Rossport Solidarity Camp and the campaign against Shell see