At 7.30am on Thursday 8th March, a group of people from the Rossport Solidarity Camp blocked Shell's haulage route between Ballinaboy refinery and Shell's tunneling compound in Aughoose. They set up a concrete lock-on which two people inserted their arms into, making it very difficult for police to remove them.
At the solidarity camp when the convoys go past, gardaí form a line along the gate and do not allow anyone to exit the field and go onto the public road until the convoy has passed. Local residents are seriously disturbed by these convoys, some waiting until they know one has gone by before they go do their shopping for fear of garda harassment.
In light of this, 5 hours of a quiet road today was very much appreciated by many who live in the area. The 'protest removal team' (the garda unit responsible for cutting people out of lock-ons) arrived around 11, and they had the two people cut out of the lock-on by about 12.30pm. The road was clear soon after. Both campaigners were arrested and charged under the Public Order Act Sections 8&9.
Local Pullathomas resident Betty Schult comments on today:
“It has really felt as if our community is under siege the last few weeks. You wake up in the morning to convoys of lorries rumbling past your house on this narrow road that is not meant for Shell. And today it became obvious how much associated traffic there is, not just the lorries but the security vans and jeeps, the workers, the gardaí- it's as if our neighbourhood doesn't belong to us anymore. Nearly all the traffic on the roads is associated with the convoys.”
She continues, “Today was such a relief, to have a peaceful quiet road again. This is a scenic area, and those of us who live here cherish that stillness and beauty. Shell has brought nothing but disruption, forcing the industrialisation and militarisation of our homeplace for the past 11 years.”
Local resident Mary Horan says about today:
“It's nerve-wrecking driving to work and being squeezed between lorries and held up by gardaí, ducking and diving and rushing to get past convoys. Bangor to Glengad is my working route, same as Shell's haulage route. My patients expect me at the same time each day, but Shell makes it difficult, I'm overtaking lorries up and down all the time. The road today was so peaceful and quiet and lovely to travel, I could go to work and go about my business unhindered.”
The protests are continuous, come and visit the area anytime to join or just to see what it's all about.
The next Day of Solidarity is Friday March 30th, please come up and show solidarity with the community that has been facing this struggle for the past 11 years.
Here are some links to videos of the type of harassment the community has endured in recent weeks because of the haulage:
Here is a detailed court report of the 'special sitting' for Shell to Sea cases in Belmullet District Court two weeks ago: